News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Assembly for a Motor Vehicle", for Approval

August 20, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors ALBOU, Pierre (Paris, FR); PUENTE, Jean-Claude (Livry Gargan, FR), filed on January 29, 2014, was made available online on August 7, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The invention relates notably to an assembly for a motor vehicle.

"Personalization of motor vehicles is an aspect which is of increasing importance among vehicle users. It is, for example, commonplace to configure the aesthetic appearance of the vehicle before purchasing the latter. This solution does, however, present the drawback of being permanent throughout the life of the vehicle.

"Now, there is a need to enable the user to adapt this esthetic appearance according to his or her requirements.

"Parts for vehicles are also known which are capable of being configured at the time of purchase to present an original appearance. However, these devices require an electrical power supply for this appearance to remain, which implies energy consumption drawbacks. Furthermore, such parts are not reconfigurable once installed on the vehicle and require intervention by a professional to be able to be configured.

"The invention notably aims to mitigate the abovementioned problems."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Thus, the subject of the invention is an assembly for a motor vehicle, this assembly comprising at least: one visible element at least partially visible from the outside of the vehicle when this visible element is installed on the vehicle, this visible element being able to present selectively at least first and second appearances, these first and second appearances being able to remain in the absence of the input of energy, notably of electrical energy, to this visible element, this visible element being arranged to provoke the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance in response to a command; and one actuator arranged to send the command to provoke the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance of the visible element, this actuator being able to be used, in normal usage, outside the vehicle.

"The actuator can thus be used without the user having to introduce a part of his or her body, such as his or her arm, into the vehicle passenger compartment.

"By virtue of the invention, it is thus possible to order the change of appearance of a visible element of the vehicle from outside the passenger compartment of this vehicle, the appearance remaining in the absence of the input of energy, for example in the absence of an electrical power supply. It is notably possible to order the change of appearance without the intervention of a professional and after the element has been installed on the vehicle.

"Advantageously, the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance is produced without the addition of material.

"Also advantageously, the change of appearance of the visible element is produced without the movement of this visible element relative to the vehicle when the visible element is installed on the vehicle.

"Preferentially, the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance is reversible. This feature notably offers the user the advantage of being able to modify the appearance of the element as many times as he or she desires.

"In an exemplary implementation of the invention, the visible element has a surface at least partially visible from the outside of the vehicle when this visible element is installed on the vehicle, the first and second appearances corresponding to two different appearances of this surface.

"For example, provision can be made for the surface of the element to be sub-divided into a plurality of surface elements. If appropriate, these surface elements are all able to change appearance, the change of appearance of the visible element being produced by the change of appearance of at least one of these surface elements. In this way, the user can choose to produce a plurality of patterns on the visible element.

"If so desired, the surface elements are arranged in rows and in columns. In this case, it is possible easily to produce patterns by addressing the surface elements in the manner of pixels of a screen.

"In an exemplary implementation of the invention, the surface element is formed on a multilayer structure, this multilayer structure comprising at least one electrosensitive layer comprising a material sensitive to an electrical current, this material changing appearance when the electrical current is applied to this material so as to participate in the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance of the surface element.

"For example, the sensitive material can be an electrochromic material, for example of the tungsten trioxide or titanium dioxide or even niobium pentoxide type.

"As a variant, the sensitive material can be an electronic ink.

"These features offer the advantage of being able to easily and simply install the sensitive material on the vehicle, for example by painting, electrolysis or even gluing.

"Advantageously, the multilayer structure comprises at least one electrode-forming first layer associated with the surface element of the multilayer structure, this electrode being arranged against the electrosensitive layer so as to be able to apply an electrical current to this electrosensitive layer.

"Provision can be made for the electrode-forming first layer to be produced in a transparent material, notably produced in indium tin oxide (ITO).

"If appropriate, the multilayer structure can comprise an electrode-forming second layer associated with the surface element of the multilayer structure, the electrosensitive layer being arranged between the electrode-forming first and second layers.

"In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the visible element comprises at least one electrical energy source electrically connected to at least one multilayer structure, this electrical energy source being capable of generating an electrical current in response to the command to provoke the change of appearance of the surface element of the multilayer structure.

"Preferentially, the visible element comprises an electrical writing circuit electrically linked on the one hand to the electrical energy source and on the other hand to the electrode-forming first and/or second layers of at least one multilayer structure, this writing circuit being arranged to transmit, according to the command, the electrical current generated by the energy source to the electrode-forming first and/or second layers to provoke the change of appearance of the surface element of the multilayer structure. It is thus possible to easily produce patterns on the visible element.

"If so desired, the multilayer structure can be flexible.

"For example, the visible element is able to form part of a body of the motor vehicle.

"As a variant, the visible element is able to form part of a window of the motor vehicle. This feature offers the advantage of being able, for example, to render the window of the vehicle opaque.

"Also as a variant, the visible element is able to form part of a lighting and/or signaling device of the motor vehicle. If appropriate, the visible element can be able to form part of a piece of this lighting and/or signaling device, this piece being chosen from: a mask, an outer lens, a lens, a housing, a trim.

"In this case, it is notably possible to produce aesthetic patterns on the visible element of the lighting and/or signaling device. It is also possible to make a part of the outer lens opaque so as to produce a dark zone in the light beam produced by the lighting and/or signaling device, for example, to produce a regulatory photometric function.

"In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the actuator is arranged to be installed permanently on the vehicle.

"For example, the actuator can be installed on the visible element.

"As a variant, the actuator is arranged at a non-zero distance from the visible element.

"Preferentially, the actuator is produced on a touch-sensitive zone of the body of the vehicle in such a way that, when a pressure is applied to this zone, the command is sent to the visible element to order the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance.

"If appropriate, the actuator can be produced on a touch-sensitive zone of a window, notably of an outer lens of a lighting and/or signaling device, of the motor vehicle.

"The actuator can comprise at least one pressure/strain gauge, this pressure gauge exhibiting an electrical resistance likely to be modified when a pressure is applied at at least one point of the touch-sensitive zone.

"In this case, the gauge can be arranged at least partially in the thickness of the window including the touch-sensitive zone. This feature offers the advantage of not adding bulk to the vehicle.

"As a variant, the gauge is arranged against the window including the touch-sensitive zone, the gauge being arranged toward the interior side of the vehicle. The gauge is thus protected by the window.

"Advantageously, the actuator comprises four pressure gauges, these pressure gauges being arranged at the four corners of the window including the touch-sensitive zone.

"If appropriate, the actuator can include a microprocessor arranged to detect a change of the electrical resistance of the pressure gauge.

"Preferentially, the actuator is arranged to generate the command when it detects a change of electrical resistance and to send this command to the visible element.

"Optionally, the microprocessor can be arranged to determine coordinates, in a given reference frame, of the point of the surface of the actuator to which the pressure has been applied, these coordinates forming part of the command. This feature offers the advantage of being able to accurately determine the position of a member, notably of a finger, pressing on the surface of the actuator, for example to determine a movement of this member.

"In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the actuator is arranged to generate and send the command only when the microprocessor detects a predetermined actuator unlocking code, this code notably being able to be implemented on the touch-sensitive zone.

"This feature notably makes it possible to avoid having the change of appearance of the visible element occur in an untimely manner, for example, when a piece of gravel or a leaf strikes the touch-sensitive zone.

"If appropriate, this predetermined unlocking code can be a predetermined movement of a pressure applied to the touch-sensitive zone or even a predetermined number of pressures applied simultaneously to the touch-sensitive zone.

"In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance of the visible element corresponds to the change of at least one of the characteristics of the following visible element: transparency, translucency, opacity, change of image, change of texture.

"Optionally, the visible element is arranged in such a way as to present predetermined appearances.

"If appropriate, each predetermined appearance is associated with an appearance code. In this case, the actuator can be arranged to generate and send the command provoking the change of appearance to a predetermined appearance only when the microprocessor detects the code associated with this predetermined appearance, this code notably being able to be implemented on the touch-sensitive zone.

"As a variant, the visible element and the actuator are arranged in such a way that the transition from the first appearance to the second appearance of the visible element corresponds to the production of a pattern on the visible element, this pattern being identical to the one produced by the movement of a pressure applied to the touch-sensitive zone.

"These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description, the accompanying drawings and the appended claims.

"The invention will be able to be better understood on reading the following detailed description of nonlimiting exemplary implementations of the invention, and on studying the appended drawing, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCOMPANYING DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 represents, schematically and partially, a front view of an assembly comprising a visible element having a first appearance according to an exemplary implementation of the invention;

"FIG. 2 represents, schematically and partially, a cross-sectional view of the assembly of FIG. 1;

"FIG. 3 represents, schematically and partially, a front view of the assembly of FIG. 1 when the visible element presents a second appearance;

"FIG. 4 represents, schematically and partially, a perspective view of the visible element of the assembly of FIG. 1; and

"FIG. 5 represents, schematically and partially, a cross-sectional view of an assembly according to another exemplary implementation of the invention."

For additional information on this patent application, see: ALBOU, Pierre; PUENTE, Jean-Claude. Assembly for a Motor Vehicle. Filed January 29, 2014 and posted August 7, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1401&p=29&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140731.PD.&OS=PD/20140731&RS=PD/20140731

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Electronics, Microprocessors.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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