There’s a fine line between useful and pointless. Guess which side of that line this patent is.

Sometimes, you have to start wondering how far automakers are willing to go to automate every square inch of a car. We’ve already seen patents for augmented reality safety systems, backward-facing driver seats, under seat capture devices, and believe it or not, cloaking devices. The question begs: what’s next? Well, in the case of Ford, voice-activated doors are next. Yes, voice-activated doors are a thing in the patent world because opening and closing doors the traditional way has become too much of a burden for the world’s population.

Patent Watch: Ford Aims to Complicate Cars Further with Voice Activated Door Openers
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Ford calls its patent a “smart” door system, and a part of its appeal rests on its ability to open and close itself through voice command

I admire Ford for being creative with its patents, but at what point do they become ridiculous? A voice-activated door? Really?

Ford calls its patent a “smart” door system, and a part of its appeal rests on its ability to open and close itself through voice command. Sure, we live in a world where a technology like that can exist. The patent itself, at least as far as its descriptions in the filings, may end up being useful at some point in the future. It has the ability to open or close at pre-programmed angles depending on the situation. It also has sensors that prevent it from striking objects when it opens or closes. There are also a number of ways the door can receive a signal. A driver could simply do it by a press of a button. That or they can use a “record” mode that would program specific voice commands into the car’s system, allowing the car to “recognize” the voice and act on the voice’s instructions.

These are good ideas in the grand scheme of things. They’re even open to many different interpretations if Ford really gets creative. But, is it really necessary? Has the process of opening and/or closing a door become so difficult and energy-consuming that we’re going to rely on a computer to do these tasks for us? Are we becoming too lazy?

Then there’s the issue of safety and security. There were no mentions on the patent of any potential security issues, and I believe Ford has something up its sleeve to address it. But what if the system recognizes a “similar” voice and opens the door to a complete stranger?

I get that this is a patent application and nothing else. Thousands of far more ridiculous patents have been filed, and none of them ever saw the light of day. But somebody spent a lot of time thinking about this new technology when they would probably have been better of thinking of something else.

Why fix something that isn’t broken in the first place?

References

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Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

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