GM Files Paten for Touchscreen That Cleans Itself

  • GM has filed a patent with the USPTO for a self-cleaning touchscreen, as first reported by
  • The patent for the self-cleaning screen describes the use of a photocatalytic coating and violet light to remove smudges.
  • Neither the coating nor the light is visible to the human eye, so drivers can amaze their passengers with the “magic” glass.

General Motors may have good news for fat-fingered drivers. The automaker is developing a touchscreen that cleans itself, according to a patent GM filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last week.

Fingerprint remover

The patent for the self-cleaning screen was discovered by The system described in the patent uses a photocatalytic coating and violet light to remove oil residue, fingerprints and other debris. As anyone with a touchscreen in their car knows all too well, these types of smudges can quickly accumulate, resulting in a blotchy surface.

A closer reading of the patent explains that touch screens with LED displays emit visible red, green and blue light. The violet light in the proposed self-cleaning unit forms an invisible fourth LED. It reacts to the photocatalyst in the transparent layer on the touch screen along with moisture in the air to clean the glass surface. GM’s patent states that this process can be turned on manually or activated automatically based on the amount of sunlight exposure or under various other conditions.

2023 Cadillac Escaladev

The Cadillac Escalade’s large screen has plenty of real estate for fingerprints.

Car and Driver

“Magic” Glass

With the touchscreens in GM’s latest models getting bigger and bigger, it makes sense to come up with an effortless way to keep their expansive glass clean. Currently, the job requires a clean cloth and some elbow grease. In the future, it could be as easy as pressing a button.

We think such a feature could also be used to surprise passengers, since neither the photocatalytic layer nor the violet light used to clean the screen is visible to our human eyes. We will play along as our favorite Harry Potter character and call it “magic” glass.

Of course, it remains to be seen if GM takes its proposed self-cleaning display from patent to production. Until then, keeping a few tissues in the glove compartment is the simplest way to keep greasy fingerprints at bay.

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Senior Editor

Eric Stafford’s car addiction started before he could walk, and it fueled his passion to write news, reviews and more for Car and Driver since 2016. His aspiration growing up was to become a millionaire with a Jay Leno-esque car collection. Apparently, getting rich is harder than social media influencers make it seem, so he eschewed financial success altogether to become an automotive journalist and drive new cars for a living. After earning a degree from Central Michigan University and working at a daily newspaper, the years of basically burning money on failed project cars and lemon-flavored jalopies finally paid off when Car and Driver hired him. His garage currently includes a 2010 Acura RDX, a manual ’97 Chevy Camaro Z/28, and a ’90 Honda CRX Si.