Is Apple planning a new steering wheel remote control?

Although iPod connectivity has become all but standard on new cars, Apple has managed largely to distance itself from in-vehicle technologies. However, that could be changing as a recently released patent drawing indicates Apple is developing a steering wheel remote control.

The patent, which first surfaced on Patently Apple, reveals that Apple is working on a wireless, steering wheel-mounted remote control for vehicle applications. The wireless remote would apparently have the ability to control any Apple media device connected to a vehicle's standard audio system.

Given the remote's clip-on attachment, Apple's patent likely reveals an aftermarket product rather than some sort of OEM collaboration. Of note, the remote clip is size adjustable so it could be fitted to steering wheels of varying thicknesses.

The design of the remote in reminiscent of the clickwheel on the original iPod, but the patent states that the vehicle remote is touch sensitive. The wheel of the remote is fully adjustable, so it can be attached anywhere on the steering wheel.

Of course Apple is keeping quiet on the subject, but the control system pictured in these patent drawings could be the company's answer to the growing need for hands-free in-vehicle technologies. No word on when the remote could hit the market, but we're sure there would be no shortage of demand for the Apple-branded product.