Visual, haptic, smart: Innovative HMI tech at CES

January 07, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The interaction between driver and vehicle, almost unchanged over decades, is arriving in the digital age. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, novel approaches give ideas how digitisation affects the way drivers will control their vehicles in the future.

Perhaps one of the most striking presentations at the fair can be seen at the BMW booth: The Bavarian carmaker shows a study of a future car based on its i8 sports vehicle. The i8 Concept Spyder is equipped with an 21 inch wide, 4.3 inch high display panel that visualises anything related to connectivity – mails, telephony (even video telephony, as long as the vehicle is not driving), or internet services as well as real-time navigation. While this display is located at the passenger side, the driver has full visibility of the relevant representations.

The cockpit of BMW's i8Concept Spyder is dominated by a 21" x 4" display.

This large display screen is complemented by a smaller screen above the steering column that displays all the usual car-related information, plus a head-up display that informs the driver about road, traffic (thanks to V2X communications even cars beyond the direct visibility are depicted), obstacles, road signs and the like. To enter a command, the driver or passenger uses BMW’s AirTouch gesture recognition feature that enables users to interact with the display without the need to touch them: Sensors detect hand movements in the space between the centre console and the inside mirror and translate them into control activities, enabling him to select menu items, accept phone calls or set the volume of the infotainment system. While a gesture recognition feature is already available in BMW’s current 7 high-end series, AirTouch is more advanced, the carmaker says.