Spotted in the wild was a BMW F11 5 Series Touring which interesting enough features the new iDrive system. Together with the new BMW G11 7 Series debuting in the fall of 2015, a new generation of BMW iDrive will also come to market. For the the first time, the infotainment system will be operated not only via the iDrive controller, but also be with touches.
The spy photos are not an indication that BMW will offer the new iDrive in the current 5 Series lineup, and we believe the F11 5 Series is simply used as a test bed. The next candidate likely to receive the updated infotainment system is the 2016 BMW G30 5 Series.
The current 5 Series has the LCD screen integrated into the dashboard while this test mule features a detached infotainment display sitting on top of the dashboard, as seen on the newer BMWs.
The infotainment system can be operated not only by the iDrive Controller/iDrive Touch Controller but also by touchscreen. The touchscreen and iDrive can each be used to control all functions. At the 2015 CES, BMW was quick to point out that this is different system than what other automakers are offering in a form of a hybrid infotainment system with functions operated independently through two interfaces.
The true innovation comes through from the non-contact gesture recognition, which is yet to be confirmed for the new 7 Series. The driver or front passenger simply performs a directed gesture in the area between the gear lever, steering wheel and Control Display. A 3D sensor in the roof detects whether one or two fingers are being pointed, or whether the thumb and index finger are being moved towards each other. The system decodes different movements – such as tapping, finger rotations or a swiping movement to the right – and performs the desired input. A rotating movement can be used, say, to alter the volume of the radio, a finger raised to accept a phone call or a swiping movement to decline a call.
We will have a chance to play with the new iDrive in the Fall.