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Apple Wins Patent For Steering Wheel Remote Control, A Click Wheel Remote For Your Car

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/16/2012 11:11 am

You didn't think Apple would let Google have all the fun in the car, did you?

The Patently Apple blog discovered that Apple has won a patent for a remote control that attaches to a car's steering wheel, allowing the driver to control his or her sound system using a click wheel design that will be familiar to (non-Touch) iPod owners. A mock-up of what the iSteeringWheel might look like, via Patently Apple, is below:

apple steering wheel

The click wheel has a clamp on its underside that attaches it to the steering wheel and is capable of wireless transmission (likely via Bluetooth) to an iPod or iPhone. Patently Apple notes that the clamp can be adjusted to accommodate various steering wheel thicknesses, so, if you've got a really, really thick steering wheel, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, if this gadget ever comes out, it wouldn't be Apple's first drive around the block. The new 2013 Cadillac XTS now ships with a new iPad pre-loaded with OnStar and the CUE infotainment app, for example, so that the tablet can be mounted on the dashboard and be used as a GPS and entertainment system. Siri, the voice assistant on the iPhone 4S who was recently muzzled by its cruel Apple overlords, has also been hacked to start an Acura TL, as shown in a popular video from Fiquett.com.

We have to admit, though, that starting your car with Siri and using a new iPad as your dashboard infotainment system are quite a bit cooler than a little click wheel on your steering wheel. And now the really bad news: Apple, like all technology companies, files a lot of patents for a lot of products that never see the light of day. In 2009, for example, it was awarded a patent for a sleek new in-vehicle navigation system with touchscreen that excited the Internet for a week in March. Lost drivers everywhere are still waiting for that elegant solution from Apple to become a reality.

Still, your mini-click wheel auto control could be released; it's more likely than, say, a MacBook Pro with no keyboard, anyway.

For more on Apple's patent win for a remote control on your steering wheel, check out Patently Apple, which has all the details, as usual.

Check out some of the coolest patents Apple's ever filed (below).
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  • 'Pouring' File Transfer

    The HP TouchPad's "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqSm-pusG-g" target="_hplink">touch to share</a>" feature has nothing on this futuristic Apple patent, which illustrates Apple devices emmulating natural, real-world gestures. In the illustrated example above, an iPhone is tilted over an iPad in order to share files, the way you would do if you were "pouring" the data from one device into the other. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2011/0163944.html" target="_hplink">2010</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/07/apple-wants-to-beat-hps-webos-sharing-feature-with-something-cooler.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • Head-Mounted Display

    Back in 2006, Apple filed a patent for a laser-based binocular display unit, which could attach to glasses, helmets, or goggles. In theory, users could plug the device into their iPod and watch videos via the head-mounted apparatus instead of on the tiny iPod display. This wearable system would also let the user remain mobile while enjoying media entertainment. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2008/0088937.html" target="_hplink">2006</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2008/04/apple-preparing-a-cool-ipod-visual-head-display-system.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • Double-Sided iPhone

    This filing makes us wonder what it would be like to have an iPhone with separate displays on its front and back. If each display operated independently, then users could control navigation (or a table of contents) on one side while reading or watching video on the other. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2011/0175805.html" target="_hplink">2010</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/08/apple-thinks-that-youll-flip-over-a-future-generation-iphone.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • 3D Holographic Projector

    Many technology companies are betting that 3D is the next big thing, and fortunately for Apple, it already has a few patents to its name. One such example is a desktop display system that projects a 3D hologram, rather than projecting a 2D image onto a flat screen. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7843449.html" target="_hplink">2006</a> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2008/03/apple-working-on-3d-holographic-projection-displays.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • Solar-Powered MacBooks

    Using a reflector that captures light externally, future MacBook owners could enjoy using their laptops outside while harnessing the sun's natural energy to power the device. Apple's patent states that a "translucent surface may also serve to protect the rear face of the display screen from damage". <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2010/0073791.html" target="_hplink">2008</a></strong> <em>Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2010/03/solar-powered-macbooks-may-be-in-our-future.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a></em>

  • Inductive Chargers

    In one iteration of the system, users wrap earphone cables around a charging tower and place a conductive metal mesh on their device in order to power-up. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2011/0188677.html" target="_hplink">2010</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/08/apples-inductive-charging-patent-finally-surfaces.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • Shape-Shifting iPods

    Picture this: an iPod Classic whose touch wheel can morph into a television remote keypad. Currently, input devices use a specific set of operations (such as buttons, keys, touch screens) to command a computer; but, a shape shifting configuration that can physically change interface topography could be a complete game-changer in consumer electronics. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2010/0162109.html" target="_hplink">2009</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2010/06/apple-introduces-the-incredible-shape-shifting-device-interface.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

  • Liquidmetal Battery Power

    This patent would let Apple use liquidmetal, or "<a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7862957.html" target="_hplink">amorphous alloy</a>" collector plates for internal component fuel cells. <a href="http://www.cultofmac.com/apple-is-granted-its-first-liquidmetal-patent-exclusive/75486" target="_hplink">According to Cult of Mac</a>, this technology "could power mobile phones for more than 30 days without recharging and notebooks for 20 hours or more." <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7862957.html" target="_hplink">2004</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.cultofmac.com/apple-is-granted-its-first-liquidmetal-patent-exclusive/75486" target="_hplink">Cult of Mac</a>

  • 3D Gestures

    3D gesturing allows users to rotate objects on the touch screen, gain different perspectives, control color and texture, and more. This technology could be a breakthrough in computer-aided design applications and games. <strong>Filed: <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2011/0164029.html" target="_hplink">2010</a></strong> Source: <a href="http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/07/apples-wild-new-3d-gesturing-is-aimed-at-cad-avatar-creation-more.html" target="_hplink">Patently Apple</a>

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