As technology in cars becomes increasingly complex, the need for making it simple to use becomes more pressing. This is the principle on which Volkswagen has based its Golf R Touch concept car. The vehicle's infotainment system is controlled by driver gestures and three large touchscreen interfaces.
"The development team for the Golf R Touch pursued the goal of producing an interior and infotainment concept that would fulfill seemingly contradictory requirements," explains Volkswagen. "Despite the continually growing complexity and number of functions, this concept was intended to reduce driver distractions while attaining maximum personalization and intuitive operation in the car."
Volkswagen says that nearly all of the controls in the Golf R Touch are either touchscreen or sensor-based. The touchscreen displays include a high-resolution 12.8-in infotainment system, an 8-in Control Center from which the user can adjust climate control and media settings, and a 12.3-in Active Information Display that shows digital versions of the car's instruments.
With its gestural control system, Volkswagen talks of "extending touchscreen operation into a third dimension." The system uses cameras mounted in the vehicle that recognize hand gestures, and assigns meaning to them. In this way, users are able to control displays and vehicle functionality without having to focus on and use a touchscreen. This is aimed at making human-vehicle interaction more convenient and, ultimately, at improving safety.
A variety of different gestures are used, and are captured by different cameras. When a user's hand is raised towards the car's roof, for example, the system recognizes and acknowledges the action and allows the user to instruct the automatic sunroof to open with a swiping gesture. A camera at seat level, meanwhile, detects if a user's hand moves between the front seats, and allows the user to change their seat settings with different gestures. A touch slider below the central console allows users to alter audio, navigation or telephone volume, depending on how many fingers they slide up and down it.
Users are able to customize the touchscreens using a smartphone or tablet. It's possible to select background images, for example, and to customize the screens' layout according to preference. Similarly, the digital instrumentation and the lighting of the touchscreen and in the interior of the car itself can be adjusted.
Smartphones can also be connected to the infotainment system via Mirror Link, Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay systems. These allow for certain apps to be accessed through touchscreen, voice and gesture command.
The Volkswagen Golf R Touch concept vehicle is on display at CES this week.
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