We spend a fair amount of time nosing through the online files at the US Patent and Trademark Office. That's because automakers file new ideas on a daily basis, and many of them are terrifically complicated. Every so often, however, we come across something exceedingly simple that leads us to wonder why someone didn't think of it sooner.
That's what we have here with patent number 11,780,302 BS, dated October 10, 2023. It comes from Ford, and to sum up a five-page description in five words or less, this sun visor breaks glass. Okay, it's a bit more complicated than that, but honestly, not much.
Several images in the patent show a normal-looking sun visor you'd find in any vehicle. It's mounted onto a metal rod, which lets you flip the visor around as needed to block the sun. Instead of being permanently mounted on the rod, the sun visor can be removed to reveal a pointed end, or the impact point as mentioned in the patent description. The rod is also removable from its mount on the roof, giving you a small tool that, in theory, can shatter a window. It's that simple.
But is it practical? Most glass shattering tools are in the shape of a small hammer, or are built into something a person can grip with some measure of strength. The patent doesn't talk about the size of this built-in glass breaker, but it does make considerable mention of the L-shaped bend in the design. Whether that would offer enough grip for a person to shatter a window is, frankly, something we hope we never have to find out.
What about accidentally shattering windows? Sun visors are mounted near windshields after all, and while the patent doesn't specifically address anything about accidental contact, it does give us all kinds of wonderful legal-esque phrases about using "vehicle-downward force" and applying "lateral force that is opposite the terminal end" to remove the rod from the visor. As far as we can tell, that means it snaps into place.
It's one of those simple ideas that seems like a no-brainer, and it just could save a person's life. Of course, we see many patents that never progress beyond this phase, so there's no telling if this will ever see life in a production vehicle.