Imagine a world where your car’s dirty, greasy, fingerprint-covered touchscreen could automatically clean itself. Sounds nice, right? General Motors has received a patent for a wild new self-cleaning technology that can do precisely that.
Touchscreens are a growing part of daily life. Not just on our phones and tablets but laptops, refrigerators, cars, and more. These days, more vehicles are coming with giant touchscreens replacing every button or dial. Eventually, everything will be a dusty screen covered with fingerprints.
The patent, spotted by AutoEvolution, is a “self-cleaning system for displays using light emitting diodes emitting invisible violet light.” The idea is pretty technical, but it’s essentially a regular display with some extra elements to handle dirty jobs.
Most LED screens have red, green, and blue (RGB) colored pixels, which display everything we see. However, GM’s system utilizes a fourth invisible “ultraviolet” pixel. Then, GM would equip screens with a transparent photocatalyst layer that absorbs and interacts with those violet pixels and creates a chemical reaction.
That chemical reaction does several different things, including adding some moisture, then drying out the screen’s surface and cleaning it of dirt, dust, debris, fingerprints, grease, and more. If this sounds familiar, a similar technology is available for self-cleaning solar panels.
Having a screen that is always clean, sterilized, and ready for use sounds great in a car, but what I really want is this technology on my laptop and smartphone. And while this is only a patent right now, we could eventually be driving self-driving cars that clean themselves.