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GM is creating a self-cleaning touchscreen to get rid of fingerprints

Published Feb 17th, 2023 7:46PM EST
Interior of the Chevrolet Equinox
Image: General Motors

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If you’ve ever used a touchscreen in the car (or any touchscreen in general), you’ve likely ended up with fingerprints all over the display. It can turn beautiful pieces of technology into fingerprint-covered junk pretty quickly. General Motors seems to think so too, and the company is working to fix that particular issue in its vehicles.

As reported by Gizmodo, the company has filed a patent for self-cleaning touchscreen technology that will periodically activate to clean up all of those pesky fingerprints. According to the patent, the touchscreens will add a violet pixel and photocatalyst screen coating that, when activated, can clean off those imperfections.

In addition to red, green, and blue pixels, the upgraded screens would introduce an additional violet pixel that, similar to ultraviolet light, would be invisible to the human eye so as not to affect the colors and images seen on the screen. The touchscreen would also use a similarly invisible photocatalyst screen coating designed to absorb certain wavelengths of light in order to produce a chemical reaction. GM’s patent suggests the use of a metal-oxide-based photocatalyst that would react to the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, but since many cars use window tinting to keep the interiors dark and cool, the photocatalyst’s reaction would instead be initiated by the violet pixels.

It appears that the idea is to activate the self-cleaning technology every night so that, when you come out to your car the next morning, your display will be smooth as butter. However, if you happen to get the screen particularly gross during the day, it sounds like users would be able to manually activate it when needed as well.

At night, when the car is sitting unused in the dark, or even during a cleaning cycle manually started by the driver in the day, the violet pixels would turn on and activate the photocatalyst in the screen coating which would start a chemical reaction that uses moisture in the air to break down the organic materials left behind in fingerprints, as well as oil residue and grease from the fast food we all guiltily gulp down in the car sometimes.

So, when could this technology actually make its way to GM’s vehicles? Well, it’s only in the patent stages right now, so there’s no way to really tell. However, it is cool to see companies like GM thinking about this as, for anyone who hates fingerprints, it would be great to see your car clean them off itself.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.