In the 131 years since Karl Benz invented the first self-powered automobile, cars have undergone a series of metamorphoses, each rendition resulting in vehicles that are faster and more powerful. BMW’s new concept car, the BMW i Vision Future Interaction, unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, continues the industry’s foray into the future by showing what user interfaces might look like in tomorrow’s tech-focused vehicles. The doorless, roofless chassis (inspired by the BMW i8) is merely a vessel to showcase a 21-inch display panel positioned over the dashboard, on the passenger side, that can be controlled by its AirTouch technology. The next-generation technology allows passengers to control navigation, communication functions, and entertainment with simple hand gestures—mirroring touchscreen capabilities without having to actually touch anything—while car functions can be controlled by touch or voice.
In lieu of normal switches and dials, a single drive-selector switch on the left-hand side of the steering wheel allows drivers to switch between three modes: Pure Drive (the driver operates the vehicle), Assist (assistance systems intervene when necessary to help the driver maneuver safely), and Auto Mode (the car drives itself completely autonomously). In addition, BMW Connected, a personalized digital assistant that informs drivers when car parts need to be replaced, memorizes which routes are taken most frequently and informs passengers if traffic disruptions are visible along the route, and also sends notices to synced smartphones letting drivers know when they need to leave to reach their destinations on time. Other highlights include Gesture Control Parking that enables the car to pull into or out of parking spaces by following the driver’s gestures, and a heads-up display that projects traffic and vehicle information into the driver’s visual field. (bmwusa.com)