Self-cleaning touch screen display

GM created a self-cleaning touch screen display that eliminates fingerprints

Love it or hate it, touch screens replacing physical buttons in cars aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, one day your entire dashboard will likely be one large display covered in weeks of greasy fingerprints. To make it less intrusive, instead of having to wipe it off by occasionally rubbing your sleeve, General Motors has patented a new screen design that allows the touch screen to wipe fingerprints on its own.

If you immediately envisioned this patent depicting a robotic arm with a microfiber cloth extending from the dashboard of a car and getting to work, or even tiny windshield wipers that come to life after every touch screen interaction, like the ones you use when cleaning your windshield, then your turn is your way. What GM came up with was much smarter and less intrusive.

In addition to the red, green and blue pixels, the updated screens will introduce additional purple pixels which, like ultraviolet light, are invisible to the human eye so as not to affect the color and image displayed on the screen. Touch screens will also use a similar invisible layer of photo catalyst designed to absorb certain wavelengths of light to trigger chemical reactions. GM’s patent suggested using a metal oxide-based photo catalyst that would react to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, but because many cars use window tint to keep the interior dark and cool, the photocatalyst reaction would be initiated by purple pixels instead.

At night, when the car is not being used in the dark, or even during a cleaning cycle initiated manually by the driver during the day, purple pixels light up and activate a photo catalyst in the screen coating, which triggers a chemical reaction that uses moisture in the air to break down organic matter that left in fingerprints, as well as oil and grease residue from the fast food we eat in the car.

When the reaction stops and everything dries, those greasy smudges and fingerprints simply disappear like dust in the wind, leaving a clean screen ready to be soiled again with that morning’s remains of Egg McMuffin.

So when will self-cleaning touch screens appear as an option in GM vehicles? Maybe in a few years, may be never. So far, the technology is only in patent status, and GM hasn’t made any announcements about whether it plans to pursue the technology as an actual feature in future vehicles or whether it will just sit on a patent so other automakers will offer it. Also doesn’t turn on. We hope he’ll push the idea along, as a self-cleaning touch screen would be a welcome improvement for many devices, not just cars.