Now Honda is getting ideas about “smart leather” for cars, it seems. AutoGuide.com uncovered that Honda Japan recently filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a so-called “smart functional leather” that would contain layers with electronic circuits that could be used for a variety of purposes. For example, a layer of the leather could have inlaid LEDs that could be used to display vehicle speed or navigation directions on the dashboard or steering wheel.
Different variations of this smart leather technology could be used to make a leather covered wireless charger that seamlessly integrates with the dashboard surface, or to measure the driver’s biometric functions if applied to a vehicle seat. The biometric function could be used to monitor driver alertness. We could also see it being paired with an OnStar-style emergency SOS system that would automatically call 911 in the event of a crash and give paramedics information about your vitals before they arrive at the scene.
Honda’s patent outlines multiple methods for manufacturing ‘smart leather’ for various purposes. In one description, a method is described that includes attaching an electronic circuit to a leather sheet that is applied over a vehicle surface and “attaching a light source, a sensor, a wireless transmitter, or a switch, to the circuit.”
It’s hard to see this technology being implemented on a production car any time in the near future, but we may see it on a Honda concept one day. We’re not sure how it’s better than digital display, but it could open up some new avenues with regards to interior styling, we suppose.