Land Rover Is Experimenting With Touchless Touch Screens

Illustration for article titled Land Rover Is Experimenting With Touchless Touch Screens
Image: Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it has patented a “predictive touch” technology which essentially lets you use touchscreen controls without your finger actually coming in contact with the screen surface. Seems like a great solution for fingerprints, though I’m skeptical it won’t be frustrating.

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This idea for predictive touch, reportedly co-developed with the University of Cambridge, is being pitched as both a COVID-19 related solution and a driver-distraction minimizer.

Per a press release I got from JLR’s South African office:

“Lab-tests and on-road trials showed the predictive touch technology could reduce a driver’s touchscreen interaction effort and time by up to 50 percent, as well as limiting the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Uneven or poor road surfaces can often cause vibrations that make it difficult to select the correct button on a touchscreen. This means drivers must take their attention away from the road, increasing the risk of an accident.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to determine the item the user intends to select on the screen early in the pointing task, speeding up the interaction. A gesture tracker uses vision-based or radio frequency-based sensors, which are increasingly common in consumer electronics, to combine contextual information such as user profile, interface design and environmental conditions with data available from other sensors, such as an eye-gaze tracker, to infer the user’s intent in real-time.”

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Hmm. Hmm. I do agree that finding what I want to push on certain infotainment systems can be a bit of a pain, especially while driving, but I’m extremely skeptical about a predictive system guessing correctly every time.

(“Just de-content the damn automotive interface,” he yelled, as everybody rolled their eyes.) Fine, keep turning cars into phones you damn kids.

Sorry, I’ve stopped eating breakfast recently and it’s made me a little on-edge. Joking aside, I guess this has the potential to improve touchscreen interactivity but if it’s anything like BMW’s gesture control there’s only one finger I’m inclined to give it.

As for if and when this will actually make its way into production cars, I guess that remains “TBD.” I asked one of JLR’s reps which vehicles this touchless touch-tech was planned for and they just replied that the company “doesn’t comment on future products.” So all the company’s done is get a patent, which often happens and leads to nothing, so don’t get too excited about wagging your finger at your Rover’s dashboard and making anything happen soon.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL

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DISCUSSION

BlueTinCan
BlueTinCan

They need to invent “Predictive Mechanic’s Touch” so that we know where the next problem will occur.