Visually Show Blinds Spots, Turn Signals etc. are Working

Patent Overview

Protected by U.S. Patent 9,843,734 B2

This patent was recently issued for a retractable camera fitted to a vehicle, referred to as “the device”. The device is primarily intended for use on cars and trucks but it has other application potential.

The patent focuses on the device to be fitted on the rear or front license plate frame or other area on the front or rear, or on each side of a vehicle. The idea is to enable the vehicle operator to see if his or her turn signals, brake lights, license plate light or back up lights are working. The device also acts as a rearview camera. Additionally, the device is intended to enable a driver to see blind spots on either side of a vehicle or in the front or rear of a vehicle. The device allows the driver to view blind spots when pulling out of areas with limited visibility. Inside the cabin of the vehicle there is a dual video display and a connection to the OBD port. The OBD port is where vehicle diagnostics can be read by a plug-in analyzer. You may have seen some insurance companies offer a device to plug into the ODB port to monitor driving behavior and offer discounts for safe driving. So, when a driver turns on, for example, their left turn signal, the OBD port tells the device to extend the retractable camera mounted on the rear, and/or the front and/or side of the vehicle, to extend and point the camera to the left rear/front turn signal or the sides of a vehicle for blind spot detection. The in-cabin video display will show whether the turn signal is working and will show objects in the blind spots on either side of the vehicle. The same thing occurs when the driver turns on their right turn signal. Additionally, the retractable camera can be actuated manually by pressing specific buttons. This would be used if the driver wants to check whether their brake, backup or license plate lights are working or on the front of the vehicle whether both headlights are working. This is what the patent shows via drawings and verbiage.

Additional functionality to the patent that is not reflected in the patent drawings but nevertheless is part of the patent, claims 16 and 17 on last page of the patent. That is to mount the device on both sides of the vehicle toward the front, near the side-view mirrors or front fenders, so that when the left or right turn signal is selected the driver can see the blind spots on either side of the vehicle or can activate the device manually via buttons. This works as described above but when the driver selects a turn signal, the retractable camera extends, looks rearward, and shows the blind spots on the visual display inside the vehicle cabin. Additionally, a driver could have the device mounted on the front and rear of the car so that when he or she presses a button the extender arm swings out and shows a view of the areas on either side of the vehicle. For example, this functionality could be used when the driver is pulling out of a driveway across a sidewalk onto a street. The area that will be shown, on the dual visual display in the vehicle cabin, is the simultaneous view of the sidewalk to the left and right of the vehicle allowing the driver to see if there are any pedestrians approaching from either direction before pulling all the way out. This functionality would also be valuable when pulling out of a parking space at a shopping mall.

The patentable part of the device is that it is a retractable camera mounted on a vehicle. An important part of this device is that it will be housed in an enclosure to keep the cameras clean.

The animations, in the animations section, shows each of the mentioned functions for both cars and trucks.

1. The applications:

a. Showing the detection of turn signals, backup, brake, license plate lights and blind spots as described.
b. Acting as a rearview camera.
c. Showing the device mounted on rear or front of vehicle that when extended it will show a view perpendicular to the vehicle in both directions. This is to provide visibility when pulling out in areas with limited visibility. See drawings at the bottom of this document.
d. The benefit of having the camera retractable into an enclosure is that it will keep the camera clean as compared to a vehicle-mounted camera that is not retractable such as a rearview camera.
e. Two devices, one attached to each side of the vehicle that will show the driver’s blind spots on the left and right sides of the vehicle.
f. Two devices, one attached to the front and back of the vehicle that will show the driver’s blind spots to the left and right of the vehicle.

2. Hardware Suggestions

a. Actuator motor.
b. Extender arm.
c. Camera(s).
d. Dual visual display
e. Control box, located inside vehicle cabin.
f. Wireless charging unit, i.e. 900 MHZ RF power transmitter. (See web link below)
g. Wirelessly chargeable lithium batteries, via RF power harvesters. (See web link below)

http://www.powercastco.com/products/powercaster-transmitter/

1. Hardware Considerations

The patent centers around the detection of turn signals, brake lights, backup lights and license plate light detections. The patent also covers the use of the device to detect blind spots but this use is not readily observable in the patent. Blind spot detection is referenced in the claims section of the patent in sections 16 and 17. In considering the implementation of blind spot detection, and specifically to powering the motor actuators, extender arm and cameras, the use of wireless charging technology should be seriously considered. The idea would be to have a wireless charging unit mounted within the vehicle cabin. The motor actuator, etc. would be composed of a wirelessly chargeable lithium battery that would be continuously charged via the wireless charging unit.

3. Animations

The animations demonstrating the patent’s functionality show the dual visual display as part of the vehicle, i.e. the integrated visual display that comes with newer cars. Additionally, the animations show the pressing of control buttons integrated into the vehicle’s console located around the visual display. However, a unit can be produced for a do-it-yourself application with a separate visual display to be mounted on the dashboard along with a separate controller box mounted inside the vehicle cabin.

Animation Links

a. Car, turn signals, backup, brake, license plate lights, and rearview camera.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=14nytN2LQndLqyjkUO5EAvQgQ40np8lEp

b. Truck, turn signals, backup, brake, license plate lights, and rearview camera.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nJ26YhV0UWIi1nP5HWuHK0WUWZLfe_UO

c. A car, in blind spot, driving along the right side of the car.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UFEPQiFnleT6KsE5KslPFZOuZi9kTV1L

d. Truck blind spot, a car driving along the right side of the truck.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1psjlrIIOPma3d4HYup6pbDXo9CvPeO-H

e. Blind Spots while car pulling out of a spot with limited visibility.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ld2PhamJ4qYCgGuBZSvkdAGrScOQV_ff

f. Blind Spots while Truck pulling out of a spot with limited visibility.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iBsHvAF5J6n-UjJOIO79QgBDDBiGEzic

g. Large trucks backing up into a road-alley and loading dock.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1M2d-XqArXGZDRzhe6SgF3898shEqq25V

4. Animation Descriptions

Protected by U.S. Patent 9,843,734 B2

1. Showing the detection of turn signals, backup, brake, license plate lights, and rearview camera.

a. Turn signals, backup, brake, license plate lights.

Driver turning on his or her left turn signal at an intersection with a driver operating a car behind. As the driver slows down to make the left turn, the driver operating the car behind crashes into the first driver because, unbeknownst to the driver making the left turn, their rear left turn signal is NOT working. The animation continues, same as above but when the driver making the left turn turns on his or her left turn signal, he or she smiles as he or she confirms on the video display that the rear left turn signal is working!

b. Backup, brake, license plate lights.

A driver driving down a road approaching a line of stopped cars at a stop light, with a driver of another car driving behind. The driver applies the brakes but unbeknownst to him or her, the brake lights do NOT work! The driver behind the driver approaching the red-light rear ends the driver. The animation continues, same as above but when the driver approaching the line of traffic stopped at the red light applies the brakes he or she happily remembers having manually tested, earlier that day, to see that the brake lights were working earlier that day.

c. Rearview camera.

The typical rearview camera, when dirty, does not work well, if at all. With a rearview camera that is dirty, a driver backing out of his driveway may not see a child sitting at the rear of the vehicle. Which may lead to a tragedy!
The animation continues, same as above but when the driver puts the car in reverse the device opens a flap exposing a clean camera that provides a clear view of a child behind the car. The driver thereby avoids a tragedy.

d. Manual testing.

A driver parked in their driveway presses a button on the device control in the cabin of the car. The device mounted on the rear of the car extends the camera out and opens the flap covering the camera. The driver presses another button on the device control in the cabin, which points the camera to the left rear side of the car. The driver then applies the brakes first, and sees on the video display the left rear brake light is working. Then the driver turns on their left turn signal and they see it is working. The driver turns on their headlights, which will also turn on the license plate illumination light, the driver sees that their license plate light is also working. Then the driver puts the car in reverse and sees the left rear backup light is working. The driver repeats the process for the right rear light cluster, i.e. press the same button on the device control in the cabin of the car again which points the camera to the right rear of the car.

2. Blind spots while driving:

1. A car, in blind spot, driving along the right side of the car.

The driver looks in the right-side mirror and does NOT see the car in the blind spot and turns into the lane where the driver in the blind spot is and gets into an accident. The animation continues, same as above, except when the driver turns on the right turn signal, the device mounted on the right side extends the camera out looking to the rear of the vehicle. The driver happily sees the driver in the blind spot on the visual display, thus preventing an accident.

2. With this device the driver does not have to take his or her eyes off the road when checking blind spots.

The driver moves his or her head to the right to see if any cars are in the blind spot. When the driver turns his or her head, unseen to the driver a car pulls out in front and the driver hits that car. The animation continues, same as above.
The driver turning on the right turn signal, sees there is a car in the blind spot on the video display and sees the car pulling out in front of them since they don’t have to take their eyes off the road to check the blind spot since they can look at the visual display at the same time as the road in front of them. The driver safely slows down to avoid hitting the car that pulled out in front of them and avoids turning into the car in their blind spot.

3. Blind Spots while car pulling out of a spot with limited visibility

When backing out of a road/alley between two tall buildings where a driver cannot see any pedestrians on the sidewalk they are about to pull out onto a woman is pushing a baby stroller with a baby in it towards the road/alley. The car runs into the women and baby stroller since the driver didn’t see them. With the device mounted on the rear of the car before the driver starts pulling out they push a button on the device control in the cabin of the vehicle. The device, on the rear of the vehicle, extends out with cameras pointing perpendicular to the rear of the vehicle and pointing in both directions, enabling the driver to view both directions to the left and right of the driver sees the women pushing a baby stroller with a baby in it toward the road/alley and the driver safely stops and the woman and baby blissfully walk by and the driver safely pulls out.

When pulling in a forward direction from an area, the same process as described above is repeated but with the device mounted on the front of the vehicle.

The idea would be to have this device mounted on both the rear and front of the vehicle for this functionality.

4. Large trucks backing up into a road/alley.

An 18-wheel tractor trailer truck backing into a tight area like a road/alley between two tall buildings. The driver backs into the road/alley and hits one of the buildings. With the device mounted on the rear of the truck and before the driver starts backing up, he presses a button on the control device in the truck’s cabin. This extends the camera from devices mounted on the rear of the trailer that point the camera rearward. The driver of the truck has a clear view of where he is backing into and effortlessly backs into the road/alley.

5. Large trucks backing up into a loading dock.

Same as, Large trucks backing up into a road/alley, but instead of hitting a building the driver is frustrated at struggling to back into the correct loading dock slot at a large warehouse. With the device mounted on the rear of the truck and before the driver starts backing up, he presses a button on the control device in the truck’s cabin. This extends the camera from devices mounted on the rear of the trailer that point the camera rearward. The driver of the truck has a clear view of where he is backing into and effortlessly backs into the correct loading dock.

6. Other large truck applications.

Duplicate of the scenarios as with cars explained above.

5. Drawings

The device connected to rear and/or front of vehicle that when extended will show a view perpendicular to the vehicle in both directions. In this configuration, there will be two cameras attached to the extending arm pointing as indicated. When not in use the extender arm is retracted, resting perpendicular to the front or rear of the vehicle contained within an enclosure.

Attached files:
Product Description.docx

Patents:
US 9,843,734 issued 2017-12-12   [MORE INFO]

Type of Offer: Sale or Licensing



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