Apple is trying to integrate itself even further into your car with a freshly patented dashboard touch screen.
Granted Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a patent dubbed "Programmable tactile touch screen displays and man-machine interfaces for improved vehicle instrumentation and telematics" (patent number 8,482,535) describes a tactile-feel touch screen that would let you adjust several of the key features and functions in your car.
The patent discusses such options as controlling the temperature, the wipers, and the radio all from one panel. And in a nod toward safety, certain controls would be enabled only when the car is stopped.
For example, a transparent knob on the touch screen could be used to alter the temperature or turn on the wipers when the car is in motion. But that same knob could also activate your e-mail and Web browser when the car stops.
The touch screen's tactile-feel approach is also designed to help drivers push the right buttons without having to take their eyes off the road.
The patent itself touts the invention as "a revolutionary form of dashboard or instrument panel results which is stylistically attractive, lower in cost, customizable by the user, programmable in both the tactile and visual sense, and with the potential of enhancing interior safety and vehicle operation."
The whole concept could complement Apple's upcoming "iOS in the Car," a feature that would let you control your iPhone directly through your auto's onboard receiver.