PREVIEW: BMW HoloActive Touch

CES 2017, Las Vegas: The car interior of the future? BMW’s trailblazing ‘free-floating’ display, virtual touchscreen and hologram-inspired in-car interface gives tactile feedback and … finger gestures?

Fusion x64 TIFF FileCES 2017, Las Vegas: BMW is showing-off a touch sensitive display that appears to float in the air called BMW HoloActive Touch, which shows drivers info on navigation instructions and what music is playing.

Virtual touchscreen

“The BMW HoloActive Touch system (is an ) innovative interface between the driver and vehicle that acts like a virtual touchscreen; its free-floating display is operated using finger gestures and confirms the commands with what the driver perceives as tactile feedback,” reads the press release. BMW HoloActive Touch is part of the BMW i Inside Future study, which gives visitors to the CES an impression of the mobility experience set to be offered by seamlessly connected and autonomously-driving cars in the future.”

Unique form

The press release goes on: “BMW HoloActive Touch brings together the advantages of the BMW Head-Up Display, BMW gesture control and direct touchscreen operation, and adds extra features to create a unique form of user interface. For the first time, the functions can be controlled without any physical contact with materials, but the technology still enables the visible and tangible driver-vehicle interaction familiar from conventional touchscreens. BMW HoloActive Touch also allows the user to access the wide variety of services provided by BMW Connected. The seamless integration of the personal digital mobility companion is highlighted even more vividly by the extremely intuitive interaction.”

Full-colour display

So how does it work? “The image of a full-colour display is generated by clever use of reflections – but now in free-floating form within the interior rather than through projection onto the windscreen,” says the press release. “It displays flexibly configurable control pads and is visible to the driver next to the steering wheel at the height of the centre console. A camera detects the driver’s hand movements within this ergonomically user-friendly area, and registers the position of their fingertips, in particular. As soon as a fingertip makes contact with one of these virtual control surfaces, a pulse is emitted and the relevant function is activated.”