Disclosed are new methods and apparatus particularly suited for applications in a vehicle, to provide a wide range of information, and the safe input of data to a computer controlling the vehicle subsystems or "Telematic" communication using for example GM's "ONSTAR" or cellular based data sources. Preferred embodiments utilize new programmable forms of tactile touch screens and displays employing tactile physical selection or adjustment means which utilize direct optical data input. 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. Non-automotive applications of the invention are also disclosed, for example means for general computer input using touch screens and home automation systems.
The patent outlines options such as controlling the temperature, the wipers, and the radio all from one panel. While some cars already have this feature, the patent also describers a touch screen with a tactile feel that could help drivers push the right knob without having to take their eyes off the road. For instance, one knob could activate the windshield wipers when driving, but when the car is stopped, it could also check your email.
The inventor listed on the patent is Timothy Pryor of Ontario, who happens to be behind a company/concept known as Digital Dash. Digital Dash emphasizes using a tactile display with knobs and switches that can be configured via software to provide many function depending on the needs of the system. Pryor's concept consists of a product called "Digital Dash Reconfigure-able Tactile Display" (RTD), which you can see a demo of in the video below.
Apple is clearly becoming more ambitious with its vision of iOS in the Car as carmakers start rolling out the feature in 2014.
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