Heated steering wheels are nothing new. But steering wheels where said heating serves a purpose besides keeping your hands toasty? Not seen that before.
Enter Jaguar Land Rover and its ‘Sensory Steering Wheel’ concept. Developed in partnership with Glasgow University, different sides of the wheel can be quickly heated or cooled to warn drivers of obstacles. Land Rover says the system could be used to tell drivers where/when to change lanes or make turns, and to warn of approaching junctions.
The company also says thermal cues could be used to deliver non-urgent messages—such as low fuel or an upcoming point-of-interest—where a vibration or bong would be too intrusive. Further down the road, JLR also says the tech could be applied to a vehicle’s gearshift paddles, to indicate to the driver that his car was entering or leaving autonomous mode.
Why? JLR cites studies that say thermal cues, rather than potentially more distracting audio or visual ones, could help drivers stay focused on the road ahead.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.