This is how you combat bad parking and people with zero spatial awareness.
Few things in life are as annoying as taking the utmost care of your pride and joy, only to discover that someone else has scratched it. This mostly happens because the average person has the spatial awareness of an elephant on an LSD trip. Or it's because you cheated, in which you deserve to have rude words carved into your BMW. If you are a victim of scratch-related revenge, fear not. We may have a solution.
BMW also recently filed a patent for a scratch detection system capable of detecting a scrape. It will then sound an alarm and send a signal, which we assume would go directly to the owner's smartphone. BMW already has a robust smartphone-based digital key.
The Drive discovered this patent filed with China's National Intellectual Property Administration.
The system consists of a camera that can record the miscreant responsible for the scratch and a storage device that can store said footage and all the necessary details.
The patent is beautiful in its simplicity. BMW basically applies a "scratch-sensitive skin" to the car. A constant electrical current constantly runs through the skin, and the computer can detect when there's a change in the current. That's when the alert system and cameras kick in.
If you happen to be driving while the car is scratched, you'll get an auditory alert and a display in the instrument cluster. Or you could just look and listen for scraping noises. This system is really only applicable when you're not with the car.
Will BMW put it into production? It doesn't seem like a tough system to engineer, but it will most likely be an optional extra on high-end cars like the BMW 7 Series. Or a vehicle with which owners have a solid emotional bond, like the BMW M4 CSL.
It makes sense that this patent originated in China. Even though it's a vast country, big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou are bursting at the seams. China's economy is doing exceptionally well, which means almost everyone can afford a new car. Shanghai is also the city with the most millionaires, so there must be thousands of expensive Bimmers rolling around. Couple that with limited parking space, and you're bound to get loads of scratches.
But lousy parking is a global phenomenon, and we can easily see this technology being useful in the USA.