Ford's patent uses precipitation and condensation to create temporary images on the body.

A new patent from Ford won’t make the brand’s vehicles quicker, lighter, or more fuel efficient, but it will certainly make them stand out on a winter day. The company now has a way to use moisture and precipitation as a method for forming body graphics. As the patent illustrations demonstrate, this solution would allow a stallion to appear on a Mustang’s hood while snow melts off.

For this eye-catching system to work, Ford would use a body panel with a heating element underneath or near a hot surface – the engine in these illustrations. Humidity and temperature sensors would allow hot air into channels that would create a predetermined pattern on the cold outer surface. In these drawings, snow on a Mustang’s hood melts in such a way to create the pony car’s emblem.

Ford Heat-Generated Graphics Patent

While Ford doesn’t provide an illustration, the patent also explains a way for this system to work when it’s warm outside. The sensors would also control coolant lines running underneath a pattern, and they would make the air in the channels cold. The moisture in the ambient hot air would create condensation on the panel’s surface in the desired shape.

Ford also considers way to make the pattern bolder by using thermochromatic paint. As the body gets hotter or colder, the special mix would make the changes more obvious by changing the exterior’s color.

From a practical perspective, this tech probably isn’t very useful, but there are obvious aesthetic applications. For example, imagine a giant RS on the hood of a Ford Focus RS on a snowy day or the Blue Oval’s logo on any of its models. Alternatively using heating elements on the entire hood would let the vehicle have hazy stripes or possibly add extra visual punch to the existing ones. It’s the type of gimmick that would grab people’s attention in a crowded parking lot.

Source: Ford via Free Patents Online, Auto Guide

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Gallery: Ford Thermal Graphics Patent