Home » Ford Wants To Use Vibrating Seatbelt Buckles To Help You Find Them More Easily

Ford Wants To Use Vibrating Seatbelt Buckles To Help You Find Them More Easily

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We’ve all been there. It’s 11 PM and you’re jonesing to get to the club. You yell at your mates to get out of the house and into the Uber. You’re all squeezing in, ass to ankles, but you’re not going anywhere. You’re all sitting on each other’s seatbelts and nobody can find their buckle to strap in. Thankfully, Ford has the solution to this embarrassing debacle.

Imagine you’re in that same crowded scenario, but wait… you feel a buzzing by your left butt cheek. Ah, that’ll be your buckle! Suddenly, finding it and digging it out is a piece of cake.

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Yes, Ford’s solution to this problem is to make seatbelt buckles vibrate. So simple!

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The idea is that a sensor in the seatbelt mechanism will detect a passenger pulling the belt out, and then engage the vibrate motor to help them find the buckle.

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Ford came up with this idea some time ago, first applying for the patent back in 2021. The intended method of action is to vibrate the buckle when a passenger tugs on the seatbelt to put it on. A sensor on the seatbelt mechanism detects when the seatbelt is being pulled out, and activates the vibration in turn. The vibration would then be stopped when the buckle is inserted and the occupant is properly belted. Alternatively, if the seatbelt is pulled out but then allowed to return to its resting position, the vibration would also be turned off.

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You might think there’s more to it, but that’s about it. It’s really just a way of providing “haptic guidance” to the passengers of the vehicle to aid them in finding their seatbelt faster.

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Is that a hatchback? It’s a US patent with a style of car Ford no longer sells in the US!

In a sense, it’s a safety feature. A passenger who can’t find their belt buckle might choose to go without a seatbelt. By aiding them to find the buckle, the system is helping to keep them safe. The patent also notes that this could be particularly useful for vision-impaired passengers, who might have trouble locating a seatbelt buckle under normal conditions. With this vibrating system, it could be easy to find even a buried buckle without too much effort.

Admittedly, it’s a problem that only really comes up when you’re dealing with a crowded car, or getting into the back seats in the dark. That’s probably why no one’s bothered to solve it before, but it’s still cool that Ford thought of a fix. It’s almost a shame it’s patented because I’d love to see this become the norm on every commuter vehicle out there.

Image credits: Ford, USPTO, Lewin Day

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Mike Dt
Mike Dt
30 days ago

The amount of nanny reminders I get in my new ford is maddening. Even if you put your seatbelt on you get an on screen message letting you know your seatbelt is on (and stays there for 30 seconds or till you acknowledge it). Last thing I want is a vibrating belt connector.

Mall Explorer
Mall Explorer
30 days ago

That looks very clearly like a sketch of a C-Max. Can the skunkworks low-cost EV simply be old C-Max tooling sent to China stuffed with LFP batteries where the engine used to live? Just asking questions!

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
30 days ago

Ok, that’s enough…we already have vibrator cars now

James Carson
James Carson
30 days ago

Next they will add flashing strobing RGB with a manditory app.

Martín Marín Martínez
Martín Marín Martínez
1 month ago

I envision a night shift in an emergency department, the nurse comes at the doctor saying:
-Doc, you have to come to the parking lot entrance… There’s this… Person in the driver seat of a raptor that can’t get out
-So… how did this happen to you??! Did you accidentally slipped on the wet floor while you were taking a shower and landed exactly with your * on this device?
-Actually I didn’t want to soil the shift knob

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Another fix for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
1 month ago

This reminds me of that SmartBeep commercial (I’m dating myself here) where a guy is sitting in a recliner and you can hear a beeper vibrating. The guy picks up the phone, dials his friend and says “Beep me again” and hangs up.

I wonder if Ford will use something along those lines in their ads. I think it’s gold.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
1 month ago

Literally the only car I’ve ever been consistently unable to buckle a belt is Model 3/Y. They just recess them so deeply into the seat and the belt locks up at so short a distance that I often can’t connect the two without a few tries

Citrus
Citrus
1 month ago

I was wondering if that was just a me problem. First time I’ve ever been in an Uber where it actually took a minute to get underway.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

To encourage children to buckle up, they should have the rear seatbelts play a unique jaunty tune when the plugged in. They can sell subscriptions to the latest songs and there could even be co-branded limited editions. Ford Escape Bluey Edition would seem like a perfect fit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chronometric
DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

A lot of parents would pay a subscription fee to get them not to do this.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

Auto enrollment on purchase.
Opt-out subscription $9.99 per month.
Profit!!

Martín Marín Martínez
Martín Marín Martínez
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You monster… Some men just want to watch the world burn…

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I’ll propose the opposite, where it plays an annoying jaunty tune about buckling up and it doesn’t stop until buckled. That’ll get my kids to buckle up real fast, though thankfully they are very good about buckling up so I really don’t even have to tell them to.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

Great, one more thing in my car reliant on electric power that’ll probably create electrical gremlins in the future…

FlyingMonstera
FlyingMonstera
1 month ago

I’m sure Volvo had illuminated front seat belt buckles (we had 760s and 960s) which I remember thinking was completely pointless as front buckles are always in the same place and doesn’t everyone put their seat belt on by feel? Rear seat belt buckles are another story where I’m astonished how inaccessible they (still) are in a lot of cars.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Hmm. Not a bad idea from my perspective. Although, if this already involves running power/etc. to the buckle, it might also be useful to run little lights (which immediately turn off once secured)…right?

On the handful of occasions where I had 4 passengers in my Prius v, it would’ve been nice if the “CENTER” text on the middle back seat was illuminated while they were fumbling around, if nothing else.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 month ago

I think ford is just getting patents for any and all things its engineers can thing up. For this one, if it goes into production, it will be on onlyfans soon after.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Typically engineers get bonuses for any patents they (Ford) are awarded. It is also a prestige thing so yes, they apply for a patent for any brain fart no matter how smelly.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Vibrating seat belt buckles. I can see how these might be “entertaining” when on a long road trip with the girls basketball team. Do they also buzz?

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago

Soo, the buckles in pretty much any modern car I’ve driven are all permanently secured in a way that restricts their movement to about +- 2 inches.

Are there cars out there with crazy buckles that can somehow get lost in a car?

Can BMW make their turn signal stalk buzz to help their drivers locate it?

Lincoln Clown CaR
Lincoln Clown CaR
1 month ago

There’s no technology that will help my parents/in-laws locate the buckle in my cars in anything resembling a normal amount of time.

CatMan
CatMan
1 month ago

This!

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

A prime example of something not needed, that add’s expense and failure points to your car. The car industry has totally lost its fucking mind with trying to be “new”. They should focus on being “good”.

Our Yukon buzzes your seat when you are close to going over the line on either side. It vibrates on the side you are going to go over the line on. I find it helpful and also an unassuming reminder. No loud beeps, or other crap, just a subtle buzz to let you know. I find this useful, and safety oriented. It is STILL an unneeded failure point, but I find a lot more value in that, than what Ford wants to do here.

If you can’t find your seatbelt (or see road lines in fairness), you have much larger issues than a little vibration will fix.

Last edited 1 month ago by Greg
Protodite
Protodite
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

OHHHHH yeah. There was that semi-joke from what, the 90s?, about how the car companies should be run like Microsoft and it was the whole thing about how they’d never work and need to be restarted and yada yada yada. Well it seems they’ve forgotten the joke part and now take this idea seriously – things are overcomplicated and just don’t work!

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

“you have much larger issues…”

That’s the first thought I had, although maybe not exactly the way you meant it. Seems to me that it is really meant to help the obese/disabled. Even somewhat healthy people can see down to their hips without trouble when seated.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

Gee, why engineer a mechanical solution (like why are the belts so hard to find in the first place) let’s turn the job over to the electrical engineers to apply a whiz-bang futuristic all-the-kids-are-doing-it digital bandaid we can charge more for?

Cody
Cody
1 month ago

but it’s still cool that GM thought of a fix”
We’re still talking about Ford, right?

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  Cody

It was cool that GM thought of a fix, and apparently generous of GM to give the idea to Ford to patent. Or maybe Ford won it in a card game with the world’s other large automakers after the Detroit show.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

Ford, GM, Stellantis, VAG, and BMW rock-paper-scissored for it in the back of the car on the way to the club.

GM invented it in the 80s – 1880s – but quickly dismissed it after car reviewers noted it as “helpful” and “a sign of things to come.”

Stellantis gave up after the tooling and molds to create Dodge/RAM/Jeep/Wagoneer/Chrysler proved prohibitively expensive, and decided to create a new, as-yet-unannounced seat belt buckle sub-brand to share across the portfolio. Additionally, the Dodge implementation with the retraction spools being driven directly by accessory pulleys for up to 707 horsepower of restraining action didn’t test well.

VAG insisted that the seat belts you could actually touch or feel were passé and developed a capacitive touch alternative.

BMW sold a subscription for them, but it was to turn them off – otherwise, they would buzz perpetually, including when the car was off, potentially draining your battery unless you paid up, sucker.

This left humble Ford, who struggled to differentiate the various haptics of running up the rumble strip on the side of the highway because your truck is too big, running over pedestrians because your truck is too big, and losing track of your seat belt buckles because your truck is too big.

AlterId
AlterId
30 days ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

That’s “Big ’Un” to you.

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