Manufacturer supplies technology for concept vehicle


Rinspeed's microSNAP is an autonomous "last-mile" concept vehicle designed for commuting and localized, "just-in-time delivery." Courtesy Gentex Corporation

A West Michigan auto supplier has provided technology for a Swiss car designer’s latest autonomous concept vehicle that will be unveiled this month at a trade show.

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation — a manufacturer of digital vision, connected car, dimmable glass and fire-protection products — recently integrated multiple technologies for microSNAP, the latest concept vehicle from the Zumikon, Switzerland-based automotive think tank and car design company Rinspeed.

The vehicle will debut during the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in Las Vegas, which runs from Jan. 8-11.

Last year at CES 2018, Rinspeed launched Snap, a concept vehicle that allowed users to summon a vehicle-sized chassis or “skateboard” that docked with personalized passenger “pods” to autonomously drive users to work, shopping, camping or anywhere they wanted to go.

This year at CES, Rinspeed is demonstrating a downsized Snap offshoot dubbed microSNAP, a “last-mile” vehicle designed for commuting and localized, “just-in-time delivery.”

For microSNAP, Gentex provided its biometric iris-scanning system for occupant recognition, an interior cabin monitoring system and dimmable glass window elements.

Gentex’s iris-scanning system consists of a small module housing near-infrared emitters, an iris-scanning camera and system-level intelligence. In real-world applications, it could serve to authenticate microSNAP passengers, authorize vehicle usage, track and assign ride payment, deliver “customized security, comfort and convenience features” and sanction “safe, secure access” to a host of cloud-based, connected vehicle services, according to Gentex.

Gentex’s future cabin monitoring system would consist of a camera and environmental sensors that could monitor passenger activity and well-being, along with vehicle hygiene and air quality. System intelligence would alter vehicle operation and send alerts and notifications according to detected in-vehicle events. It could help ensure passengers are properly restrained, exit the vehicle at their designated location, don’t smoke in or vandalize the vehicle and don’t leave behind any belongings.

To help ensure passenger privacy, Gentex provided microSNAP with dimmable glass panels that darken on demand or in conjunction with sensor function. They can assist the climate control system in maintaining a consistent temperature by darkening according to temperature and sun load sensors.

According to Gentex, the original Snap concept was so well-received when it was launched at CES 2018 that a startup is now on the drawing boards, and talks with investors are underway to put a version of Snap on the road.


Founded in 1974, Gentex (Nasdaq: GNTX) is a supplier of automatic-dimming rear view mirrors and electronics to the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows to the aviation industry and fire-protection products to the fire industry.

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