When the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens on January 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada, BMW will be showcasing a Vision Car featuring a new gesture-controlled interface called AirTouch – no touchscreen or control knob required.

The Vision Car will demonstrate what BMW calls an "intuitive control" for entertainment, navigation and communication with the infotainment system in the car. The display in the vehicle allows touchscreen-like interaction without physically touching the screen and lets the user control the interface using specific hand gestures starting from a "flat hand."

Sensors record hand movements in the area between the center console and interior mirror. This corridor stretches right in front of where the infotainment screen is located in most vehicles on the road today. In the Vision Car, the display has a large panoramic shape, and the interface of icons and menus should be familiar to most smartphone or tablet users.

Holding a hand flat engages the screen and movements in front of it select icons, menu choices, and so forth.

This is the next-generation of a similar three-dimensional system BMW presented at CES 2015. That system read finger movements by the driver to do common tasks like adjust volume or accept phone calls. All without requiring that the driver take hands off the wheel or look away from the road. That technology is now in the BMW 7-Series as BMW Gesture Control.

The new system builds on this to cater for more complex infotainment needs and allows for a more three-dimensional approach to control, with gestures beyond finger pointing. What's more, a simple button on the left side of the steering wheel and passenger's side door allows selection of items so that either driver or front passenger can control the screen and make item selections.

Menu interfaces have been restructured to take advantage of this new control interface for AirTouch. Activating the phone, for example, automatically brings forward a contacts call list so that only one more action is required to place a call. In all menu choices, AirTouch attempts to intelligently anticipate what is coming next in order to speed up the process and minimize distractions.

The system will be displayed at the BMW Group booth at CES 2016 in Las Vegas. Gizmag will be there to bring you more details from the floor.