Skoda, which was the top patent filer among Czech firms in 2019, has developed a light-up LED seatbelt buckle that it says could “eliminate” the hassle of trying to put on seatbelts at night.
The patented buckle features a pair of multicoloured LED lights under a transparent eject button that operate in two modes.
When nobody is in the seat, the lights glow white, making the buckle visible in the dark. However, once a passenger sits down, the second mode activates, causing the buckle to glow red to remind the passenger to put on the seatbelt. It then turns green once the belt is secure.
The buckles feature a crystalline pattern on the transparent eject button, which Skoda said helps disperse light, increasing the button’s glow. Users can also programme the buckle to flash, making it even more noticeable at night.
Skoda said the red glow will be particularly useful for parents who can “see immediately” if their children haven't put on their belts properly but will improve safety for all passengers.
The buckle is still under development, and Autocar UK has yet to receive confirmation of when or if Skoda will roll out the technology on its production cars. Some Audi models already have belt buckles surrounded by a white LED strip, but this is less advanced and not intended as a safety feature.
The LED buckle is the latest of several innovations recently pioneered by Skoda. Last year, the manufacturer filed 94 patent applications, more than any other company in the Czech Republic.
The firm has also partnered with a number of start-up companies in Israel. In 2016, it established a standalone firm called Skoda Digilab to find start-ups developing technology that could benefit Skoda. Israeli start-ups are particularly highly regarded for their work in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
The hunt for new car tech: Why Skoda is backing start-ups in Israel