Apple is worried about drivers sneaking looks at their iPhone's music collection while they drive and the technology giant is working on a solution.
A recent filing to the US Patent and Trademark Office includes a glimpse of the future technology that Apple is working on, including a Bluetooth-based remote control for Apple-branded devices that clips on to a car's steering wheel.
In keeping with Apple's minimalist theme, the as-yet unnamed iController features an iPod-style spinning outer wheel surrounding a central button mounted on a fairly simple clip system.
According to the patent filing, users simply place the iController on the steering wheel, and twist it to clamp the two arms onto the wheel. The touch-sensitive faceplate of the device can also rotate so that the face is level.
The device is designed for vehicles that support Bluetooth wireless connections, but do not allow drivers to have full control over Apple devices using the car maker's steering wheel-mounted buttons.
''With the growing popularity of portable media devices, various accessories are also being sold that interface with these portable media devices to provide additional functionality or convenience to a user for operating the portable media devices,'' Apple says in its filing.
''One of the popular accessories currently being offered is an in-vehicle entertainment system that is configured to interface with a portable media device and allow the user/driver to control the portable media device using the controls of the in-vehicle entertainment system.
''Some in-vehicle entertainment systems do not include the control functionality but rather only output information provided by the portable media player. In such in-vehicle entertainment systems, the user has to control the portable media player using the controls on the portable media player itself.
''In both types of in-vehicle entertainment systems discussed above, the user (driver) has to take his eyes off the road in order to manipulate either the in-vehicle entertainment system controls or the controls on the portable media player. Such distraction can be dangerous and can lead to accidents.''
However, Apple has hinted that the remote is not strictly just for the car.
''In some embodiments, the remote control device can also be wearable on a person when not mounted on the steering wheel,'' it says.
- Sydney Morning Herald