General Motors has patented a revolutionary screen design that allows touchscreens to automatically remove fingerprints.
The upgraded screens would add a fourth color, violet, in addition to red, green, and blue pixels. This violet color, like ultraviolet light, would be invisible to the human eye and not alter the colors or images displayed on the screen. The touchscreen would also make use of a screen coating made of an equally indistinct photocatalyst that is intended to absorb specific light wavelengths and trigger a chemical reaction.
In accordance with GM’s patent, a metal-oxide-based photocatalyst should be used to react to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays. However, since many cars use window tinting to keep their interiors dark and cool, the photocatalyst’s reaction would actually be started by the violet pixels.
The violet pixels would turn on and activate the photocatalyst in the screen coating at night when the car is left idle in the dark, or even during a cleaning cycle manually initiated by the driver during the day. This would start a chemical reaction that uses the moisture in the air to break down the organic materials left in fingerprints, as well as the oil residue and grease from the fast food we all occasionally eat in the car.
Those oily smears and fingerprints will simply vanish like dust in the wind when the reaction stops and everything dries out, leaving clean screens that are ready to be soiled once more.
The technology is still only in the patenting stage, and GM hasn’t stated whether it intends to pursue the technology as an actual feature in subsequent vehicles. Although we hope that this upgraded feature will be on the market sooner.