At CES BMW Group will show a Vision Car to demonstrate what the design and software interface of BMW cars might look like in the future. The company will introduce 3D AirTouch controls that can be made in front of displays and confirmed on a steering wheel edge button or passenger side rim button.
AirTouch enables intuitive control of entertainment, navigation and communication functions using simple gestures made with a flat hand. AirTouch allows the display in a vehicle to be operated like a touchscreen without actually having to make contact with the surface. Sensors record the hand movements in the area between the central console and the interior mirror. This enables drivers or passengers to change the focus on the surface of the large panorama display. Simple confirmation selects the relevant menu item or activates an icon.
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. A concealed AirTouch button is located on the rim of the steering wheel. It is on the left and easy to reach with the thumb, and it 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.
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. AirTouch recognizes which selection and control steps are required next and displays them in advance. This allows the driver to focus all their concentration on the road ahead or offers additional convenient control options when the vehicle is travelling in highly automated mode.
Last year, BMW showed gesture control at the CES that enables finger movements to carry out actions such as adjusting the loudness or accepting phone calls. Later it was released as BMW Gesture Control in the new BMW 7 Series.