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Apple patent filing involves night vision in an automobile

Let the Apple Car rumors continue to roll. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190095721) for “nighttime sensing” that would improve night vision in an automated automobile.

In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that nighttime or low-light environments present challenges for automated vehicle control systems. For example, the illumination level provided by headlights on a vehicle at night may be limited by laws or regulations, which may in turn limit the effective range of a visible spectrum sensor (e.g., a camera) used for detecting objects in or near the path of the vehicle. 

Having a limited effective range (e.g., about 60 meters) for detecting and or classifying objects can reduce safety and/or reduce the speed at which the vehicle can travel safely. Apple’s idea is to change this via a combination of multiple complimentary image sensing technologies employed to address the challenges of nighttime or low-light environment object detection and classification.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Systems and methods for night vision combining sensor image types. Some implementations may include obtaining a long wave infrared image from a long wave infrared sensor; detecting an object in the long wave infrared image; identifying a region of interest associated with the object; adjusting a control parameter of a near infrared sensor based on data associated with the region of interest; obtaining a near infrared image captured using the adjusted control parameter of the near infrared sensor; and determining a classification of the object based on data of the near infrared image associated with the region of interest.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.