BMW already has “gesture control” in place on the latest 7-Series flagship sedan; swipe and slide fingers in front of the infotainment screen to execute commands. A new experimental version can be controlled from either front seat, and it works in three dimensions.

Basically, sensors built in to the front of the car detect hand motions from the driver or passenger in certain menu screens, allowing people in the front seats to swipe through things by doing some funky sign language in front of their faces.

An OK button would be tucked into the rim of the steering wheel, with another in the passenger’s door sill area for easy item-selection.

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Alright, it’s not quite as cool as the fully computerized windshield from Mission: Impossible but AirTouch is a pretty exciting development in human-machine interfacing.

Information and icons will still be displayed on a large (but “traditional”) flat screen in the center of the dashboard, but being able to recognize three-dimensional gestures unlocks a lot more potential than a standard nav screen’s been able to have.

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I have a feeling the inputs will be kept pretty simple, but it will be really interesting to see what hand-motions BMW has in mind, what kind of customizability we might see, and how deep into their lineup this gets ported.

BMW has stated that we’ll see this tech demonstrated at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 6. As I mentioned above, BMW’s already pushed the last gesture control tech to production cars since it was demoed at CES about a year ago. So it wouldn’t be a tremendous reach to say this might be a near-future feature in the automaker’s infotainment offerings.

Images via BMW, Mission: Impossible screengrab


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.