3M, Visteon BMW X-Wave Concept Demonstrates Future Of In-Car TechS

Featuring a host of Human Machine Interface, lighting, surface and display innovations, 3M and Visteon have created the X-Wave to showcase technology they'd like to bring to the automotive market. The two companies have combined expertises—Visteon with in-car tech and 3M for transmissive optical film and other materials—to find new ways to display information, provide lighting and interact with drivers and passengers. The first thing you'll notice looking at the interior of this adapted X5 is the center console. The buttons are hidden behind its surface, illuminating when the car is on. In lieu of the tactile push a physical button delivers, the virtual buttons react by way of haptic feedback, vibrating or clicking when pressed depending on programming.

That hidden display technology continues throughout the interior, providing as-need data on otherwise traditional-looking surfaces. For example, the doors include proximity sensors to warn of on-coming traffic or cyclists, flashing a warning just below the side windows when it's unsafe to open a door. Those proximity sensors are used inside, too, for adaptive, as-need lighting in places like the foot wells and map pockets.

3M has also developed a new, reconfigurable 3-D information display to replace traditional instruments. These can give the appearance of a manufacturer's own unique design in a universal package and be adapted to deliver optimal information levels for a specific driver or environment.

The X-Wave also feature a variety of less sexy, but practical innovations like films, glues and materials that will offer manufacturers new ways of constructing vehicle interiors. As well as things like new-style hinges that allow the center console to pivot in multiple directions and the door-mounted arm rests to adjust for height.

Lighting solutions continue outside, with the use of precision lighting elements that offer more aesthetically pleasing and effective surface lighting. Expect to see many of these technologies appear on production cars in the next few years. [via Visteon]