BMW reveals i-Inside Future at 2017 Consumer Electronics Show

Article by Christian A., on January 8, 2017

2017 is a very busy year for BMW. The German automotive brand this week exhibits the “i-Inside Future” sculpture concept. Now happening at Consumer Electronics Show, it is also at this event that they are introducing the self-driving 5 Series but let’s save that for another write-up. For now, let’s have a closer look at what the “i-Inside future” concept is all about.

Expect the most advanced BMW interior as you take a peek into the “i-InsideFuture”. Wow. The designers this year not only added autonomous mobility into their car, but they also created this highly futuristic HoloActive Touch that will put any touchscreen to shame.

The HoloActive system features a holographic interface to use for communication, infotainment system and navigation. BMW equipped its new product with the most advanced gesture control that turns the centre console into a floating display. This basically works along with a camera that monitors the movement of your fingertips. After which, a pulse or vibration is emitted from an ultrasonic source every time an input is made.

BMW’s HoloActive Touch offers more convenience, so there’s no need to lean forward to control the interface. The floating display appears just when you need it and will fade automatically once you’re through. Since the concept is intended to run with fully autonomous features, the “i-Inside” is mostly made for comfort, convenience and connectivity.

Audio and music can be enjoyed with BMW’s “Sound Curtain,” which has its speakers embedded within the headrests. With BMW’s advanced digital technology, everything is curated to your own taste. Aside from keeping a record of your personal schedule, it can store different playlists that passengers can listen to privately.

The backseat passengers meanwhile can take advantage of the foldable widescreen monitor to connect their device or to use for video streaming. In addition, this headliner display turns into a cozy ambient lighting system when not in use. It is also possible to be equipped with the most premium video stream subscription, Microsoft Cortana assistance and automatic sunshades.

The enhanced connectivity lets its passengers connect with the vehicle whether it’s their smartwatch, tablet device or mobile phone. Given the car’s autonomous capabilities, passengers can read a book, play games, watch a TV show or a full-length movie. In short, they can do whatever pleases them.

Interestingly, the sculpture on display is literally a sculpture. It’s not even a concept vehicle to start with ---since there is no set of wheels to speak of. But it truly represents BMW’s future when it comes to mobility and electrification. Check it out.

Press Release

Travelling in the cars of the future

Room for greater individuality through the intelligent application of innovative technology.

How do we wish to travel around in future? What do we expect of a car interior? In what way do we want to experience a journey? Alone yet together, connected yet independent, safe yet cosy. BMW i Inside Future addresses these issues and puts forward ideas for debate.

Today, intelligent connectivity is already increasing the options available for customers to manage their personal mobility agenda and use digital services inside their vehicle. Drivers and passengers are already accustomed to remaining permanently connected with their digital life while out on the road. This expectation leads, among other things, to greater demands on the vehicle’s display and control system. Interior design will be increasingly influenced by the desire to control a growing number of functions easily, safely and intuitively. The wealth of functions on offer is remarkable even now, ranging in current BMW models from state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and in-car entertainment programmes to the array of communications facilities that turn the car into a mobile office. And with the advances in autonomous driving anticipated for the future, the list is certain to grow longer still.

At CES 2017, BMW is unveiling its BMW i Inside Future sculpture, which caters precisely to the individual requirements of a vehicle’s driver and passengers in all sorts of ways, while still providing sufficient space to experience a journey together. The interior is conceived as a room with separate zones allowing the passengers to spend the journey as they please, fulfilling to-do lists and wish lists alike.

The various ideas for the vehicle interior of the future include a pioneering way of controlling functions: BMW HoloActive Touch takes the gesture control functionality that is already available today in the BMW 7 Series and
BMW 5 Series to a whole new level. The innovative interface between driver and vehicle comprises a free-floating display next to the steering wheel that can be operated directly with the finger, and an ultrasonic source that provides tactile feedback for the driver’s inputs – all without actual contact being made with a user interface.

The interior’s transformation into a living space.

The BMW i Inside Future sculpture exhibited at CES 2017 offers a look ahead to the future of interior design. BMW’s vision makes allowance for the fact that a vehicle’s interior is set to turn more and more into a living space for comfort- focused, permanently connected users. The interior of the future will function as a place of retreat, an office or a recreational space for entertainment, as required. Intelligent connectivity is expanding the spectrum of digital services available inside a vehicle, while automated driving is reducing the driver’s workload and providing the extra freedom needed to take advantage of these services in their car.

BMW is leading the way in the development of these key drivers for the future of mobility. Today’s BMW models are already available with numerous systems rooted in forward-looking technologies that are also ideally prepared for further advances – in terms of both automated driving and intelligent connectivity and control systems. Driver assistance systems provide an ever-increasing degree of effective support, not just with controlling speed, regulating the distance to other vehicles and keeping in lane, but also with avoiding collisions by monitoring traffic moving along the same road or crossing it. BMW Connected provides customers with a personal mobility assistant that seamlessly interlinks use of the vehicle with their digital life. This involves using both the vehicle itself and personal devices – such as smartphones, smartwatches, tablets or the Amazon Echo with built-in voice assistant – as digital touchpoints for the flexible Open Mobility Cloud platform. A display and control system ensemble offering unrivalled functionality and diversity ensures intuitive, highly convenient control of these and other services from the vehicle; conventional buttons, the iDrive system, the touchscreen function for the Control Display, BMW gesture control and voice control combine to create an operating toolkit that both encompasses a vast number of different functions and makes allowance for individual preferences.

With BMW i Inside Future, BMW is demonstrating how these technologies can be taken a few steps further and supplemented by further innovations to create the vision of an interior that has been purpose-designed for fully automated driving and intelligent connectivity. The study emulates the state-of-the-art, luxuriously appointed ambience of a premium car, in which top material and build quality are traditionally combined with unobtrusive technology that is there whenever it is needed.

Multifunctional cockpit with fully integrated widescreen display.

The interior of the future has been designed so that both the ambience and controls adapt to the current driving mode. In the future, too, it will be the driver alone who makes the choice between active and automated driving.

The navigation system identifies those sections of the route that are suitable for highly or fully automated driving, and the driver is notified when the vehicle reaches such a stretch of road and can then activate the switch to automated mode. The driver can also take over control of the vehicle again at any time when driving in automated mode.

Elements of the cockpit’s appearance, including the display and control system, change in accordance with the selected driving mode. In Drive Time mode, the functions that are geared towards active driving take centre stage. With the introduction of automated driving, however, the tasks of longitudinal and lateral vehicle control will be taken care of for the driver. The vehicle accelerates, brakes and steers by itself, without the driver having to intervene. In future, this form of mobility will probably first become possible on selected stretches of road – for logical reasons these will be motorways or other roads where traffic moves in the same direction.

The BMW i Inside Future sculpture is equipped with a Dashboard Display that is fully integrated in the instrument panel and extends across its entire width. In contrast to conventional screens, the non-illuminated areas of the cutting- edge widescreen monitor do not stand out from the sections of the cockpit surrounding them. All functions can be selected and activated by voice control or from the driver’s seat using the BMW HoloActive Touch system.

BMW HoloActive Touch: revolutionary technology for a fascinating user experience.
The BMW i Inside Future sculpture exhibited by BMW at CES 2017 features a major innovation in the form of a control element that combines the sort of touch operation familiar from smartphones and tablets with BMW gesture control to optimum effect. BMW HoloActive Touch is a system that produces full-colour, interactive displays in free-floating form in the vehicle’s interior. A high-sensitivity camera registers hand movements made within the zone in which the display is visible to the driver. The camera monitors the position of the fingertips especially, allowing it to detect when the driver selects an element so that the system can immediately react by activating a function, for example. In the same instant, an ultrasonic source – discreetly integrated into the cockpit just like the camera – emits a pulse directed straight at the fingertip, which the driver perceives as tactile feedback. This marks the first time ever that the signals for both visual and tactile perception in a vehicle interior have been generated without physical materials. The result is an additional, completely virtual user interface that provides the driver with a quick and direct input method if required and otherwise fades into the background as much as possible.

The principle used for creating a display that appears to float freely in the air is similar to the way in which images are generated for the Head-Up Display available for numerous current BMW models. With the Head-Up Display, driving-related information is projected onto the windscreen in colour. In the case of BMW HoloActive Touch, however, the driver sees the image in the vehicle’s interior rather than in front of the vehicle. To achieve this effect, the beams of light emitted from the instrument panel by the projector are reflected twice by microprisms. The display then appears in an ergonomically prime position above the centre console, where it can be operated directly by the driver without any wearisome stretching of the arm. The display shows a menu consisting of horizontally arranged tiles that allows quick, clear selection of the desired function, just like the Control Display’s touchscreen. The functions can be operated by Virtual Touch and vary in type and number depending on the selected driving mode. During highly automated driving, for example, this brings additional comfort, infotainment and communication functions into play.

As with BMW gesture control, the BMW HoloActive Touch system also captures the driver’s hand movements using a high-sensitivity camera, which focuses particularly on the position of the fingertips in relation to the image floating in mid-air. This enables the system to determine exactly which of the tile-like menu options the driver is selecting with their finger and to activate the associated function.

To round off the pioneering user experience offered by BMW HoloActive Touch, for every command issued with a movement of the finger the driver receives feedback not just in visual and acoustic form but also as a tactile signal. When the user points their finger at the desired menu option with the required effect, the image changes simultaneously, a discreet tone sounds and a light pressure pulse can be felt at the fingertip. The tactile sensation is similar to the feeling of vibrations, such as those produced by pressing down on the surfaces of smartphones or other similar devices. With BMW HoloActive Touch, the corresponding signal is generated by concentrated ultrasonic waves that are directed straight at the fingertip. In this way, the free-floating display is turned into a virtual touchscreen that stimulates the same senses as its physical counterpart with a touch-sensitive glass or plastic surface. BMW HoloActive Touch therefore represents a vision of a user interface for the car interior of the future that can be used universally with no restrictions on its geometrical design.

The personal BMW Sound Curtain.

Another innovation being presented for the first time in the
BMW i Inside Future sculpture on show at CES 2017 is the personalised audio programme. In the vehicle interior of the future, the driver and passengers can each enjoy their own personal entertainment programme. To this end, the audio signal is emitted solely through the personal BMW Sound Curtain in each seat’s head restraint; the acoustic signals can be heard only by the occupant of that particular seat.

Rear-seat passengers experience a new dimension in entertainment.

BMW i Inside Future also has a state-of-the-art entertainment experience up its sleeve for the passengers in the rear. A large-format widescreen display that folds down out of the headliner makes it possible to watch content that is either being streamed using an online service or played from a device connected to the vehicle. When the video screen is not in use, it serves as an additional overhead light source for creating atmospheric ambient lighting effects. The innovative new entertainment system for the rear passengers can be controlled from a built-in tablet. Or occupants can choose to link up a personal mobile device to the system via BMW Connected for the job at hand.

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