Rumors are swirling that Apple’s Project Titan is in trouble. An annual review conducted by Jony Ive in January left Apple’s lead designer “disappointed” with progress on what everyone and his brother knows is a program to build an Apple Car. Even though it is supposed to be a secret, Elon Musk said recently that is was one of the worst kept secrets in the industry. He suggested it is hard to hide something that has as many as 1,000 engineers working on it.
Yesterday, Business Insider reported that Apple supplier Synaptics is developing a touchscreen windshield for cars that can detect how hard a user is pressing on it. That sounds very similar to 3D Touch, a prominent feature on the most recent Macbooks and latest iPhones like the 6S.
“This human interface innovation allows drivers and passengers to more safely control common and emerging cabin applications with the touch of a finger, multiple fingers, and variable force of one or more fingers on a touchscreen,” said Synaptics. It is working with Valeo, a major automotive supplier that has developed several concept interfaces for autonomous vehicles.
On the iPhone, 3D Touch works like a “right click.” Pressing with extra force on the phone’s screen reveals additional user options. Synaptics calls its version of the technology ClearForce. It sells the technology to makers of Android smartphones. It also works with Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and other tech companies.
Last August, a report in Value Walk claimed that Apple was working on a touchscreen windshield that is as much as 50 inches wide. It would essentially be a giant heads up display that would project all of the information a driver needs to operate the car’s heating, cooling, braking, and steering systems directly onto the windshield. It would also allow a passenger to operate the vehicle’s audio, navigation, and infotainment systems by touching the windshield or by using hand gestures.
Add in a Synaptics pressure sensitive touchscreen windshield, and Apple would have one of the most technologically advanced electronic information systems of any car — assuming it ever produces a car of its own at all. There are reports it approached BMW last year about producing a car as a joint venture. The car would be based on the BMW i3 electric car. Apparently BMW was flattered by the attention but decided to pass on the opportunity.
Photo credit: Value Walk