BMWBLOG is live at CES 2017 in Vegas where all the latest tech is being unveiled to journalists from all over the world. BMW’s big CES 2017 unveil is the BMW HoloActive Touch System at a bright an early 6:30 am press conference. BMW demonstrated their future system for driver interface, which behaves much like a virtual touchscreen — meaning your hand floats in the air, gesturing to control vehicle functions navigation, information and communication. The driver interface is meant to demonstrate controls for drivers in the future for fully autonomous driving.
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BMW used a clearly non-moving automobile concept to unveil their HoloActive Touch. The concept car is a four seat piece of furniture without doors. It had twin kidney grills at the front and LED light bars, and 6 Roundels. It almost seems to be made with input from Ikea, as it was made of black and white plastic, natural wood and white laminate material. During the demonstration BMW talked about how it the concept’s design was a possible solution to the challenge of integrating a living room style area with an automobile.
The front seats are large fixed-back wood and leather chairs that look like they belong in a home as opposed to a car. The steering wheel is made from milled aluminum, painted black and wrapped with leather and seemingly suspended in air. There is an expansive smooth front black dash well away from the driver. Gone is the dedicated iPad style screen seen in current BMW as the whole concept car’s dash is able to be used as a display or just a small part of the dash can be used. It was fascinating to see just a small 35 mph display by itself or a fully immersive video of BMW Films on the black dash.
The dash display also has the ability to split and entertain both the driver with one audio track, say rock and roll, and the front passenger with another, maybe classical, at the same time. The head rests are supported from the ceiling and have integrated speakers. These speakers also have active noise canceling so you can have a private call on one side and not hear it on the other unless you want to share it.
Right where one would expect a gear shift lever, there is a large iPad looking screen which helps project the HoloActive Touch. Below it are the ultrasonic sensors for drivers’s hand inputs. Tucked into the right of the column of the steering wheel is a small camera which also reads the drivers hands. In the rear of the concept are seats two and has a large LED 32” screen at eye level, a bookshelf and even a blanket and some throw pillows. This large LCD display can display something completely different from the front so as to just entertain the rear passengers.
To see the Holotouch in use, you really need to be sitting in the driver’s seat or look over the driver’s shoulder. The appearance is very much what you get with BMW’s Head Up Display, except you can interact with this one. The car uses ultrasonic sensors and cameras to sense the drivers inputs. To input things, you point, push and twirl your index finger, you don’t actually touch anything. BMW has magically added haptic feed back to this by blasting air at your hand when you touch a button. At the end of the demo they even showed BMWBlog how this system can integrate with Amazon and order shoe laces if your kid needs them for their soccer game.
BMW’s plan is to integrate automated driving and then engage the passengers with connectivity such as entertainment, as well as control of vehicle functions in a seamless manner to decrease the stress on the driver.
At CES 2017, BMW has given us a glimpse of driver interface of the future. BMW HoloActive Touch building blocks are already rolling out in the all new 5 and 7 series, but the HoloActive Touch system is it on steroids!