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BMW Showing Off Next-Gen Gesture Controls at CES

Next-gen system allows for more function.

by on Dec.29, 2015

BMW's next-generation gesture control system, AirTouch, will be on display at CES 2016 next month.

BMW plans to dazzle visitors at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with its “Vision Car” that contains an updated version of its gesture control system available in the current 7-Series that will be called “AirTouch.”

AirTouch allows the display in a vehicle to be operated like a touchscreen without actually having to make contact with the surface, according to BMW.

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Sensors record the hand movements in the area between the central console and the interior mirror, enabling drivers or passengers to change the focus on the surface of the large panorama display.

The system asks for a confirmation to determine who is in control at that moment. The system uses even more 3D sensors that the previous generation to allow for easier use and more capability. Last year, the maker showed a one-finger system that allowed the user to accept phone calls or turn the volume up or down on the radio.

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The intelligent AirTouch menu control reduces the number of steps needed to make a selection. For example, when activating the phone pad, the system automatically brings up contacts or call lists to the top select level so that a call can be made with just one further action.

If all of this charades-style action is too much for you, no worries as BMW still provides plenty of buttons to allow the less tech savvy among us to control the vehicle’s various system.

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BMW is not the only maker looking to expand the use of this technology in vehicles. Recently, Mercedes-Benz announced it would be offering the technology in its new E-Class vehicles. Additionally, Audi and Ford aren’t far behind in offering the option.

However, competition may not be the biggest obstacle for BMW – or other makers for that matter – to overcome. Finding drivers who are comfortable enough with vague hand gestures, and who can remember them consistently is a problem they need to resolve.

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BMW is offering 7-Series owners a chance to schedule follow up appointments with dealers to offer training specifically for the system. Similar to an appointment with “geniuses” at Apple stores, the specialists walk new owners through all of the gestures and capabilities of the new system so they can become more comfortable with them.

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