Cool Car Tech From 2016 CES

BMW AirTouch
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BMW's AirTouch

Why it's cool: Is this a new wave for car stereos?

Objections that touch-screen infotainment systems can be too distracting have led other carmakers to come up with alternative ways to adjust settings. But unlike the smartphone-like steering wheel controls on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW is taking a different approach. AirTouch watches your hand movements to operate the infotainment system. "This means the panorama display can be operated like a touch screen without having to actually touch the screen," explains BMW.

At CES, BMW demonstrated how AirTouch works using a shell of its plug-in hybrid supercar, the i8. Sensors mounted in the dashboard tracked hand gestures for either the driver or the passenger. The menu is displayed as tiles to reduce clutter. To select an option, the user "taps" the air in a pushing motion, as if tapping an invisible button. A touch-sensitive control surface is also mounted in the leather console. BMW hasn't announced when AirTouch will appear in its production vehicles.

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