updated 01:33 pm EDT, Thu October 3, 2013
Hands-free input for stereo, climate control
Google has submitted a patent application for gesture-based controls inside automobiles. The company describes various ways that hand gestures could be used to adjust a car's climate control system, change the seat position, open or close the windows, or control stereo playback and volume.
"While the user is maneuvering the vehicle, it may be difficult for the user to locate the controls," reads the filing, which was spotted by Engadget. "Additionally, it may be unsafe to include controls in some regions of the vehicle that are closest to the user. For example ... on a steering wheel or other surface from which an airbag may be deployed."
The company early this year voiced optimism that its experiments with driverless cars could turn into a commercially viable product within the next three to five years. The patent application notes that gesture input could be installed in vehicles that are designed to operate in autonomous mode, though it also suggests such technology could be used for typical vehicle systems of today.
Google has yet to announce formal plans to bring the gesture-control technology onto the market.