BMW believes gestures are the next important user interface in cars

AirTouch technology to debut at CES
by Gerard Jude Castillo | Jan 4, 2016

BMW AirTouch

As 2016 rolls in, one wonders what’s next for the auto industry. BMW may have one answer: Gesture Control. You simply move your hand to activate different functions on a flat panel. It might sound too futuristic, but it has started appearing in the latest 7-Series that debuted last year.

The evolution of Gesture Control is called AirTouch, and BMW will show it off at the next Consumer Electronics Show. As the name suggests, sensors on a screen sense certain hand and finger signals that can be used to call up various commands on the menu. The driver or the passenger can make a phone call, change music tracks, or alter vehicle configurations all by a wave of the palm. It’s essentially the future of the iDrive with some cool virtual reality thrown in.

For people who aren’t too keen on this sort of virtual touchscreen tech just yet, BMW has placed a few easy-to-reach buttons for convenience: one on the steering wheel and another on the passenger door. Each of these can be pressed to confirm a selected command, such as a phone call, for instance. These buttons are simply there to ensure that the car understands what is asked of it, and to avoid getting lost in gesture translation. Also, this sort of technology ensures an even safer time behind the wheel. It will help drivers keep their focus and hands on the road while still being in full control of their vehicle.

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With so many things going on in our cars--from entertainment, communication and even online browsing--it’s nice to know that there are technologies being developed and utilized to make life simpler on the road. It will be interesting to see how consumers receive AirTouch at CES, which opens in Las Vegas this week. Then we might just see it go mainstream real soon. Truth be told, we can’t wait.


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