BMW is planning to integrate touchscreen and gesture recognition to the next-gen iDrive human-machine interface as the carmaker intends to enhance the user friendliness of commands to operate navigation, infotainment and smartphones for the driver and front passenger.
The plan entails providing rear passengers of large sedans and SUVs a tablet – called BMW Touch Command made by Samsung -- via which they could command the infotainment and climate systems and regulate heating and ventilation for their seats.
BMW Touch Command also allows users to surf the Web using the in-car Internet connection as well as using any Android-based app. During a media event ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BMW said the next-gen iDrive and the Touch Command tablet will be available in one to two years but may have their debut by the end of 2015 on the new 7-series sedan, its flagship model.
The new iDrive will offer four interfaces: 1) the touch-screen panel; 2) the gesture control functions; 3) the traditional iDrive knob in the central console; and 4) voice recognition offered in the current system.
Verena Reischl, an engineer working at the human-machine interface department of BMW’s FIZ research center, remarked that as smartphones and tablets changed the consumer behavior in interfacing with technology, BMW’s future models should adapt to the new behaviors.
Reischl noted that focus groups showed a variety of user patterns and that none of iDrive’s four interfaces will be gone from in the future. She remarked that the new iDrive recognizes five gestures, although more could be added in future.
iDrive’s gesture control system, which employs a camera mounted under the roof, allows users to adjust audio volume or fan speed simply via rotating a hand clockwise or counterclockwise.
For instance, pointing a finger straight toward the infotainment screen allows one to accept a phone call, a text message or an e-mail. Meanwhile, hand swiping horizontally will refuse a call, text message or e-mail.