German automaker BMW will share its automotive vision of the future at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and, more importantly for sportscar fans, will be showcasing it inside a production-ready version of its i8 Spyder. This of course is tremendously exciting, as we reported earlier.
The hardtop, environmentally and racetrack friendly i8 is already a very cool and incredibly capable car. Using a combination of battery and gasoline power it performs like a supercar – 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds – yet sips fuel like a supermini thanks to a 1.5-liter engine, and, as such, demand is outstripping supply despite its hefty €135,000 premium.
However, just as important as the car will be the technology it will be showcasing when CES opens its doors on January 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Called AirTouch, BMW is billing it as the interior and user interface of the future and one that does away with taps, swipes, touches and on-screen taps altogether.
In October during a press gathering with Rolls-Royce design chief, Giles Taylor, the subject of integrating technology into automobiles was raised and particularly the idea of going from buttons and knobs to touchscreen interfaces as the convergence between cars and technology continues at pace.
He said the reason why Rolls-Royce had so far rejected touch screens was that he hated the idea of leaving fingerprints all over the beautiful fascia of one of his cars and that, more importantly, forcing the owner of a Rolls-Royce to have to reach forward and touch something rather than that something coming to him or her went completely against the grain of what a luxury car experience should be.
The story is important because as Rolls-Royce’s owners, it’s BMW that provides the infotainment aspects of each Phantom, Wraith or Ghost, and the two companies are clearly on the same page.
AirTouch promises to bring technology to the cabin with the requisite touch of class expected at the pinnacle of the car-buying market. In BMW’s words, the new technology will enable a display “to be operated like a touchscreen without actually having to make contact with the surface.”
Thanks to a raft of sensors, the driver or passenger can use simple gestures with a flat hand to access everything from the phone to navigation and entertainment settings. The system is intuitive too, so that if for example the phone is selected, the menus for contacts and recent calls automatically appear.
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