BMW goes into the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas this year with its latest concepts in connectivity and vehicle interior design, the former as demonstrated by the G30 5 Series and the latter as shown by the BMW i Inside Future sculpture.
The i Inside Future sculpture is a concept which “focuses on the opportunities and challenges presented by fully automated driving,” showcasing BMW HoloActive Touch, a holographic interface which offers control over aspects such as navigation, infotainment and communications.
BMW HoloActive Touch is the latest development in a line of infotainment interfaces that began with the iDrive, according to the company. HoloActive Touch combines the benefits of a heads-up display, gesture control and touchscreen functionality for an vehicle-user interface consisting of a virtual display, projected in the area above the centre console.
Operated solely by the driver’s finger movements, an ultrasound source provides tactile confirmation of the driver’s commands – a pulse is emitted which the person feels as a vibration in mid-air, with no actual physical contact between the driver and the user interface.
Also within the i Inside Future sculpture is the BMW Sound Curtain, which enables the personalisation of audio for each of the car’s occupants. In this case, each selection of audio is emitted solely through the headrest-embedded Sound Curtain, and the sounds from each seating position will be audible to only the person in that particular seat.
Last but not least on the i Inside Future concept, its rear passengers get to enjoy a large, widescreen display which folds down from the headliner, displaying content that is either streamed online or from the occupants’ devices connected to the vehicle. When it isn’t used to display video content, the screen can double as an overhead light source to ambient light effects.
As for technologies on the nearer side of the horizon, BMW also showcased a self-driving G30 5 Series, which aims to demonstrate “a personalised, connected driving experience in a highly automated vehicle. This particular 5 Series demonstrator has received a host of technical modifications to support automated driving.
On specific route segments, the driver can hand over key driving controls over to the assistance systems, which then allows the driver to engage in other activities.
This year’s CES sees the showcasing of the Open Mobility Cloud, which demonstrates the possibility of integrating automated vehicles into the planning of its users’ daily lives. BMW Augmented Gesture Control allows users to access information about the buildings surrounding them by pointing at the building in question, along with an in-car, voice-controlled personal assistant – an in-car application of Microsoft Cortana.
The integration with Cortana also means that the voice-controlled abilities currently offered by Cortana on a PC or smartphone can be made available on board a BMW in the future. In future developments, BMW Connected can provide en-route reminders for appointments set without a fixed location, and Cortana can make restaurant recommendations and subsequently reserve a table, for example.
Another BMW exhibit at CES 2017 which utilises the Open Mobility Cloud is the BMW Connected Window, a sort of virtual window which extends connectivity beyond just the BMW Connected vehicle, into the home. The BMW Connected Window takes advantage of the Open Mobility Cloud for the connectivity of digital life at home, for example, enabling the exchanging of schedules and contacts.
As with the gesture control in the 5 Series and in the i Inside Future concept, the BMW Connected Window large screen in the user’s home requires no actual physical contact with the screen when navigating its functions.