Most of the gestures we use in the car aren't exactly… productive, but that's set to change. Audi, BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz are all working on some form of gesture controls, and one of the companies that supplies the 3D spacial recognition tech says its coming to cars next year.
While most of us like our buttons and knobs, automakers are looking beyond touchscreens for the next evolution of the in-car user interface – whether we like it or not. The claim is that gestures would eliminate the need to look down or rely on muscle memory to grab a control. I tested out a few demos in the past, raising my hand to increase the volume and twisting my wrist to change temps. They worked – if just – but keeping my arm in the small area necessary to be detected by the sensors wasn't exactly comfortable. That may finally be fixed.
The CMO of SoftKinetic, Eric Krzeslo, told Automotive News that we could see the first gestured-based controls in cars next year, although he wouldn't reveal which automaker will be the first to market. But we can make an educated guess.
Both Audi and Mercedes showed off prototypes at CES in 2012, Ford announced an R&D program with Intel that incorporates cameras and sensors into the interior, and Hyundai blew our minds with its concept. But the first gesture UI is going to come to a high-end marque, and assuredly a flagship.
Mercedes is probably out, since the S-Class just came out. But the rebooting of Maybach may be an opportunity. The Audi A8 could be in the running since it's been around since 2010, but the BMW 7 Series is even longer in the tooth. The F01 has been around since 2008 and we're supposed to see the new 7 later this year. Add in the fact that BMW has been working on the tech since the late 00s and that's where the smart money is – assuming Google doesn't beat everyone to the punch.