GM has filed a patent application for a so-called “Transforming Multifunction Display Control,” that would provide additional manual control inputs for operating an in-vehicle infotainment system.
This GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 11,299,047 B1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was published on April 12th, 2022. It’s titled “Transforming Multifunction Display Control,” and lists Michigan-based engineers Joseph F. Szczerba and Ki Hyun Ahn as the inventors.
The patent application describes a center console-mounted manual control input for operating an infotainment system, similar to the rotary dial system that’s currently utilized in certain GM vehicles. This system features two vertically-oriented scrolling wheels, which can be deployed via extension arms to transform into flat, circular rotary dials for controlling the infotainment system. This transforming system allows the user to scroll using the wheels, or deploy the wheels horizontally to operate the system with a rotary dial. The system also allows for only one of the wheels to be deployed horizontally, retaining the scrolling functionality of the second wheel. The diagrams also show a pair of switches mounted just ahead of the two wheels, providing additional control for the user.
A button/dial arrangement like this would give the user greater control over the infotainment system and could potentially make it easier for them to control various aspects of the system – although we could also see it complicating the operation. This patent only briefly touches on how such a design would be used in a production vehicle and doesn’t go in-depth on what kind of system functions it could control, so it’s hard to gauge just how useful it would be. Forward-thinking designs like this will become commonplace in the auto industry in the years ahead, however, as many automakers are introducing more tech-laden vehicles with semi- or fully-autonomous driving capability and other features that may require unique input devices such as this.
We’ll keep an eye out for a similar design in future GM concept and production vehicles, at which point we may learn a bit more about what this is for exactly. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to GM Authority for GM more patent filing news and around-the-clock GM news coverage.