Ford patented a feature that would use the ambient lights for displaying on the ground the state of charge of hybrids or electric cars.
The puddle light is actually the ambient light, found underside of the door handles or side mirrors, which illuminate the immediate surroundings of the car when you open or close the doors. Through this patent, Ford will you use the puddle light to display the charge status of an electric vehicle, this information being usually showcased on the dashboard. The company says this feature will help the driver to know what is the status of the battery before entering the car, how much charge it has, so the owner could better plan his journey. These status lights usually don’t display the state of the battery until the ignition has been switched on.
According to the patent, the puddle light could project the information onto other surfaces, like a wall or ceiling surrounding the vehicle, but in this context the light has to be placed in an upward direction. However, Ford prefers the integration in the side mirrors or door handles, as to create a better distance for the projection. The side mirror is particularly preferred since the housing has space for a corresponding lighting arrangement and is at a relatively large distance from the ground and from the car. The puddle light can be switched between the pure light function and the status one. The projection, which also could be shown in colour or be made to flash, wouldn’t be limited to the battery charge status, but could also project all kinds of useful information for the driver.