Apple Nabs A Patent For A Steering Wheel-Mounted Remote

May 17, 2012
Apple's patent drawing for a steering-wheel mounted remote control

Apple's patent drawing for a steering-wheel mounted remote control

How often has this happened to you: you're driving along, listening to some tunes, when suddenly your phone or mp3 player serves up something terrible -- a song that reminds you of an ex or some Katy Perry pop thing that you bought in a moment of weakness and thought you'd deleted from your playlist months ago? You hurriedly reach down to flip to the next track...and your phone fumbles to the floorboard.

Then, you have two choices. You can do the responsible thing and endure the offensive tune, waiting until you reach a stop light to dig for the device, or you can risk life and limb fumbling for your phone while keeping an eye on the guy in front of you whose brake lights have apparently gone out. Neither is especially pleasant.

Automakers are working to address this sort of problem with new telematics systems that allow you to control your devices from the dashboard. But for those of us who own older cars, Apple may have another solution: a remote control, mounted directly to the steering wheel.

The company recently acquired a patent for such a device, according to PatentlyApple. (Yes, there's a website devoted exclusively to tracking Apple patents. We'd wager there are a couple of others, too.)

According to the drawings filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the device looks very similar to the click wheel that became the ubiquitous iPod symbol in the early days of this century.

As depicted, the click wheel appears to serve as a remote for iPhones and iPods (and perhaps other devices), using Bluetooth or another pairing technology. The most intriguing thing, though, is that the remote attaches to a steering wheel, allowing users to control their devices without taking their eyes off the road. 

Obviously, these are just drawings, and if the device ever sees the light of Best Buy, it may look substantially different. But at least one person on the TCC staff would gladly pay up for something like this, having nearly caused a collision yesterday due to this very problem. (We won't name names, but you can have a guess.)

This seems like it could benefit other folks, too -- especially those with older rides or cars without high-tech infotainment packages.

Would you shell out for something like this remote control? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.

[via Cnet

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