The BMW Group took centerstage at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a Vision Car that showcased the user interfaces and interiors of future vehicles. Technology has advanced to the point where there is a high level of networking between the vehicle, driver and the external environment. The most eyecatching element was the AirTouch, a contactless touchscreen that makes it possible for motorists to control navigation, entertainment and communication functions with simple gestures.
Using AirTouch, the display unit located between the central console and the interior mirror can be operated like a touchscreen without any actual contact as the embedded sensors in the dashboard record the hand movements of the drivers or passengers. They can change the focus on the surface of the large panorama display and with a simple confirmation activate an icon or choose the relevant menu item.
BMW had presented the new gesture control feature at the 2015 CES and incorporated the technology in the new BMW 7 series that it launched last year. Motorists could use the feature to adjust the sound levels or respond to phone calls. This time around, the difference is that the sensors permit 3 D control. A movement of the hand or a gesture activates the surfaces on the large panorama display and there is another option to confirm an action. The AirTouch button is concealed and located on the rim of the steering wheel making it easy to reach with the thumb, and when a menu or icon is activated, it lights up. Just one tap is needed 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.
The intelligent AirTouch menu control minimizes the number of steps needed to make a selection. When the phone pad is used, for example, contacts or call lists are automatically brought to the top select level so that a call can be made with just one further action. AirTouch “anticipates” which selection and control steps are likely to be needed and display them in advance. Hence, drivers can increase their focus on the road.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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