But what was wrong with the regular sunroof?
Despite rapid advancements in automotive technology, sunroof technology hasn't exactly changed much. Automakers cut out a hole in the roof, install a sliding piece of metal or glass, and call it a day. Some cars now have two individual pieces of sliding glass or one massive piece of glass extending across the length of the roof, known as a panoramic roof, but for the most part, sunroof technology has remained pretty stagnant.
More luxury automakers, like Mercedes and McLaren, use glass that can become opaque at the press of a button using electrochromic technology, which is pretty much the biggest technological leap in this area. We don't know how else to improve a piece of glass in the roof but Toyota still wants to give it a try.
According to AutoGuide, Toyota has a patent for a new type of virtual sunroof. Instead of installing a piece of glass, Toyota plans to mount a display connected to a camera system. The display would connect to the camera, showing what it sees in real-time. While this idea sounds pretty cool, we have to wonder what benefit it provides over a normal piece of glass.
Apparently, the display wouldn't just show an exact image of what's outside, but would instead combine the foreground, mid-ground and background layers and scroll them, creating the sensation of speed for the driver and passenger.
Perhaps Toyota could use it to create the sensation of speed in a sports car, though we believe the idea would likely be more suitable for an autonomous car. This technology could make a cabin feel more airy, though we think a panoramic roof handles this duty just fine already.