Honda's 'Smart Leather' Could Have Some Crazy Uses, Patent Suggests

Sam McEachern
by Sam McEachern

The technology industry seems to have an obsession with putting the word “smart” before things.

It started with smartphones and before long, we had smart fridges, smart watches, smart luggage, smart toothbrushes, smart homes and more.

Now Honda is getting ideas about “smart leather” for cars, it seems. 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.”

SEE ALSO: Four Reasons to Love Japan, Courtesy of Honda

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.

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Additional reporting by Dennis Chung

Sam McEachern
Sam McEachern

Sam McEachern holds a diploma in journalism from St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, and has been covering the automotive industry for over 5 years. He conducts reviews and writes AutoGuide's news content. He's a die-hard motorsports fan with a passion for performance cars of all sorts.

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