BMW has announced the first details of HoloActive Touch, a concept dash interface that uses gesture commands. It's an iteration on the AirTouch system shown off at CES last year, and will itself make its debut at CES 2017 next month. The main difference is that it makes use of a free-floating “virtual touchscreen” that “confirms the commands with what the driver perceives as tactile feedback.”
HoloActive Touch works with services that are part of BMW's Connected cloud architecture, and the concept image above shows someone using the system to scroll through features including entertainment and communication. “For the first time, the functions can be controlled without any physical contact with materials,” according to a BMW press release. “But the technology still enables the visible and tangible driver-vehicle interaction familiar from conventional touchscreens.”
BMW distinguishes HoloActive Touch from existing HUDs by using reflections to create the illusion of a display floating in space rather than on the windshield. There's also a camera that can detect when the driver's fingertips are interacting with a virtual control surface. What BMW isn't saying right now is exactly how drivers get the perception of tactile feedback.
CES kicks off in a few weeks, and HoloActive Touch is apparently just one example of the “trailblazing concepts and revolutionary technology” that BMW has in store for the show. We will, of course, be there to bring you all the news.