BMW is using this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to showcase its new technology allowing drivers to control control entertainment, navigation and communication functions using simple gestures with a flat hand.
It says a Vision Car will demonstrate what the interior and the user interface of the future might look like. New technology called AirTouch uses sensors to record hand movements in the area between the central console and the interior mirror, enabling drivers or passengers to change the focus on the surface of the large panorama display with simple confirmation selecting the relevant menu item or activates an icon.
BMW presented gesture control at the show there last year, enabling simple movements of a finger to carry out actions such as adjusting the loudness or accepting phone calls but says it’s now taking another big leap forward. Sensors are installed in the area of the instrument dashboard which respond to hand movements here and therefore permit three-dimensional control. A movement of the hand or a gesture activates the surfaces on the large panorama display.
AirTouch has another option to confirm an action, with a concealed AirTouch button located on the rim of the steering wheel and lights up when a menu or icon can be activated. One tap is sufficient to activate the desired program or change a setting. The passenger also has a button like this positioned on the side sill in the door area. Passengers are therefore able to use one hand to navigate through the menu and the other hand to confirm inputs very quickly.
BMW says the intelligent AirTouch menu control reduces the number of steps needed to make a selection – for example, when activating the phone pad, the system automatically brings up contacts or call lists to the top select level so that a call can be made with just one further action.
The company says it’s an important safety feature allowing the driver to focus all their concentration on the road ahead, while also offering additional convenient control options when the vehicle is travelling in highly automated mode.