As reported by Patently Apple earlier today, Apple has been granted 21 patents related to a wireless remote control that mounts to a steering wheel. Ideal for iPod Touch or iPhone owners that connect their device to a car’s audio system, the remote control would allow the driver of the car to select specific tracks without taking their hands off the steering wheel. On the wireless remote control, Apple has included track skip buttons, a button to play or pause the music and a menu button to access a different album. There’s also a touch-sensitive, center select button that may also offer volume controls, but the car’s audio controls would likely suffice and many new cars have those controls built into the steering wheel.
Within the example illustrated in the patent documentation, a driver could potentially navigate through albums on a video screen likely mounted in newer automobiles. This decreases the amount of distraction during driving when compared to fumbling for the nearby iPod Touch or iPhone. Beneath the remote control, Apple included a removable section that houses the watch-sized battery.
Apple plans to implement a universal clamp system that should fit any steering wheel, but didn’t specify if the clamp would be made out of aluminum, plastic, fiberglass or another material. The top of the wireless remote control can be rotated 180 degrees to the left or right, thus giving the user freedom on the placement of the device.
Apple has made no indication when users will be able to utilize this wireless remote control, but it’s possible that the automobile accessory will be announced when the next wave of iPod Touch devices are released in Apple stores. However, this isn’t a new concept within the consumer electronics industry. For instance, a company named Scosche developed a remote that straps to a steering wheel with Velcro and the remote controls the functions of an iPod.