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BMW files patent: solving rear passenger motion sickness with roof projection

BMW recently submitted a new patent aimed at preventing car passengers, especially rear-seat passengers, from experiencing motion sickness. The patent, which was discovered by CarBuzz at the European Patent Office, describes how roof displays (such as the Theater Screen in the latest 7 series) can help passengers avoid motion sickness while driving.

It is noted that automakers and carpooling companies have been looking for ways to address motion sickness for years – Volkswagen, for example, considered removable seats and LED light bars, and Jaguar spent years researching the elimination of the brain confusion that causes motion sickness.

For those who don’t get carsick, this may seem of little significance, but as self-driving cars get closer to reality, motion sickness could become more common, even among those who have never gotten carsick, and BMW wants to be prepared to deal with it.

The simplest solution is to use a panoramic glass roof, which in combination with the windows should be enough to convey the effect of motion to the brains of motion-sick passengers. However, since BMW will be using a number of ceiling displays, the usefulness of the glass roof is diminished. BMW’s solution is to make the roof appear transparent, and for cars equipped with foldable ceiling displays, this can be accomplished by using the image displayed on the existing screen, or the image can be projected onto the ceiling.

Both require eye tracking to ensure image matching, and a single display means that only one passenger in the back can be taken care of. If there’s more than one person in the car with motion sickness, virtual reality and augmented reality technology can fill in the gaps.

Complex systems like this one require multiple sensors, and BMW notes that ceiling displays need to compensate for the car’s tilt relative to the sky, and its speed and direction relative to fixed celestial bodies like the sun, moon, and stars. Cameras could capture images of the car’s exterior and project them onto this roof-mounted screen, and BMW could also use GPS, weather details, and astronomical data to project a completely accurate image.

The concept looks promising, but will probably only be available when self-driving cars become commonplace.

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James Lopez
James Lopezhttps://www.techgoing.com
James Lopez joined Techgoing as Senior News Editor in 2022. He's been a tech blogger since before the word was invented, and will never log off.

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