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BMW's badass new i8 Spyder concept is packed with tech you can't have yet

At CES today, BMW took the wraps off its "i Vision Future Interaction" concept car. That's a mouthful, and what you really need to know is that it's a Spyder version of the incredible i8 hybrid, reworked with an absurd amount of weird new tech. BMW says it's a rolling demonstration of what "the user interface of the future might look like."

The centerpiece of the car is a 21-inch display that stretches over much of the passenger side of the dashboard. That seems like an odd place for the driver to interact with, but this car is also the centerpiece for AirTouch, a new gesture control system that lets the drive choose menu items on the display just by pointing at them. (To select, the driver either physically pushes forward in space, or touches a selection button on the steering wheel.)

It's unclear whether this kind of system would really be less distracting in practice than, say, a traditional touchscreen — but that may not matter much, considering that the i Vision Future Interaction concept is also "highly automated" on command, putting it on par with a system like Tesla's Autopilot. When set to auto mode using the switch next to the steering wheel, the car can manage highway driving all on its own; the steering wheel changes color and moves forward to give the driver more room, and the seat takes on a "lounge profile" to make it easier to kick back and interact with the giant display. Like Volvo, BMW is trying to figure out exactly how you interact with your car when it's driving itself — and everyone seems to agree that you'll be able to chill out a little more.

Neither the i Vision Future Interaction concept's interior nor exterior are ready for production, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were soon: a proper topless i8 would practically sell itself, and last year's BMW demos at CES around gesture control ended up going into the production 7 Series just a few months later.

See all of our CES 2016 news right here!


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