Apple Granted Patent For Touchscreen Controlled Car Dashboard

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Using your iPhone while driving is a huge no-no unless you want to die in a fiery crash of metal and flesh. Rather than putting all of its hopes behind Siri though, Apple has dreams of replacing all of your dashboard controls with a touchscreen interface.

According the the U.S. patent filing No. 8,482,535, Apple has developed a concept that would replace the analog controls of car dashboard with tactile and touch screen controls so you can keep your eyes on the road while adjusting temperature or changing the radio station.

Here’s how Apple described its dashboard to the USPTO: 

FIG. 1C Illustrates one example of a conceptual vehicle basic dash board (1) and center stack (5) with tactile displays and/or touch screens made possible by this invention, incorporated in the steering wheel center, the center stack, the console, the passenger side of the dash board, and possible the instrument cluster itself, not here illustrated.

The patent, titled “Programmable tactile touch screen displays and man-machine interfaces for improved vehicle instrumentation and telematics,” is actually a continuation of a patent filed in 2011. The dash board controls described in Apple’s patent can actually replace most of a cars existing instrumentation because the system can be custom programmed and incorporates adjustable embedded controls that can attach to the screen to give drivers more tactile feedback.

iOS 7 beta 3 has a secret “iOS in the Car” setting which will likely allow iOS devices to integrate with car displays via AirPlay. While Apple files many patents that never turn into full fledge products, Apple executives have said many times that Apple has explored many more automotive products and even an iCar at one point.

  • BlackSheep_Mark

    This could be HUGE for Apple – somewhat akin to cell phones.

    WIth phones, carriers (in the US – with the exception now of T-Mobiel) purchase the equipment and subsidize to a point that users buy.

    With cars, manufacturers have traditionally had “upgrades” (speakers, navigation systems, DVD players, etc.) that were at MUCH higher prices than you could buy from an OEM supplier. When most people finance cars at low rates for 36-48 (or even 60 months), a $1000 Apple system could provide profit for the car manufacturer, a fat margin for Apple at a cost of as low as $16.67/month (plus interest). Since you can’t take it with you when you buy a new car, people would buy a new system with each new car – the only downside is that even Apple fanboys probably woudn’t buy a new car every 1-2 years to get the upgraded system so maybe there could be a way to make money from annual upgrades to the software.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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