There’s been plenty of crazy trick technology making its way into vehicles of late, and BMW‘s HoloActive Touch is among the wildest we’ve seen.
Now, first off, it should be clear that HoloActive Touch won’t likely be seen in BMW showrooms anytime soon. But elements of the technology, like the Gesture Control system which allows drivers to the ability to raise and lower the radio volume, or take calls with simple hand movements, is already available on its flagship 7-Series sedan.
The “cabin” on display at the latest Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas — which is increasingly the place new automotive tech is revealed — wasn’t really a concept car in any traditional sense. Rather, it was more like a sculpture where attendees could sample the ambiance and interfaces which are inspiring BMW’s engineers to develop cutting-edge systems for the next-generation of its vehicles.
As opposed to a dashboard loaded with switches, buttons, and dials, HoloActive Touch takes a touchscreen off of the dash, and allows control full control over the vehicle’s systems from entertainment functions, to navigation, to climate control. The experience is designed to mimic the interface found on smart phones and tablets, but instead of physical buttons, an array of cameras and sensors serves as the “buttons.” One of coolest element of the tech? BMW is using directed speakers to provide tactile feedback when an option is selected. It’s exactly the kind of leap forward we expect to take holograms out of the Star Wars universe and into the real world.
Along with the HoloActive Touch, BMW also showcased some of its predictions about the future of autonomous driving, including robot valets which would escort cars to spaces, mid-trip package delivery — seriously, at some point, we’ll be able to get Amazon Prime in the Mariana Trench — and on-the-fly information about nearby buildings and businesses.
Another function we thought was cool was Connected Window functionality, which would take route planning from the car to driver’s living rooms. That’s something we could see actually happening sooner rather than later, as we think too many car owners still wind up sitting in their cars looking at apps before they head out somewhere. Getting to do that planning in front of your large flat screen? That’d be a huge improvement.