This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) saw a hefty amount of automakers showcasing their latest car-related technologies, with BMW providing quite a lot of eye candy to those attending the event. From the M4 Concept Iconic Lights fitted with the company’s Laserlight technology and Selective Beam function to the gesture-control feature of the all-new iDrive Controller, BMW showed off near-future technologies that will be available on its cars in the next few years.

The Bavarians joined German fellows from Volkswagen in demonstrating in-car gesture control, a technology that will soon replace nearly all mechanical buttons and knobs. BMW also introduced the Touch Command device, a Samsung tablet that enhances connectivity and entertainment options for passengers traveling in the rear seats. Currently the first regular tablet to become part of a production vehicle, Touch Command is also set to become the norm in future BMWs. Read all about it below.

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW’s Touch Command and iDrive Controller systems.

Touch Command

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609036

Having a tablet in the rear might not sound like a big deal at first, but the big news here is that BMW managed to integrate the Samsung device with the car’s systems. Specifically tailored by Samsung for BMW, the Touch Command tablet comes with an Android operating system and a dock in the rear seat. Users can opt to use it simply as an Android tablet or as a Touch Command device which will enable them to adjust their seats, climate settings, and switch radio stations.

What’s more, it incorporates function controls from the iDrive controller, meaning it can display various controls, a navigation map, and control the DVD player part of the BMW Rear-Seat Entertainment system. Naturally, the tablet uses the car’s Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet for updates, apps and any other features available with a mobile device.

iDrive Controller

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609046

This is by far the most interesting feature BMW showcased at CES 2015, as it updates the iDrive system to support touchscreen and gesture control. While the touchscreen function isn’t actually new, the gesture control option is downright innovative, allowing drivers to navigate without touching the screen. Using a camera mounted in the car’s roof, the iDrive Controller looks for one of several gestures made by the driver’s right hand, including swiping, finger rotations and tapping in the direction of the screen. A 3D sensor also detects whether one or two fingers are being pointed or whether the thumb and index finger are being moved toward each other.

All these gestures can be programmed to several functions. The circular motion can turn volume up and down, a raised finger can accept a phone call, while a swipe can reject an incoming call. Tapping is likely the best gesture to access menus and open applications. All told, iDrive Controller is similar to the system Volkswagen showed on the Golf R Touch, and it seems gesture command is the next big trend in car interfaces.

Why it matters

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609035

Technology is evolving incredibly fast in today’s automobile. What BMW showcased at the CES 2015 will become the norm in the next few years, with all major manufacturers to join the trend. Sure, iDrive Controller isn’t a necessity, but it’s pretty neat before anything else. It’s main purpose is to enhance comfort and convenience by reducing driving distractions while operating controls, but it remains to be seen whether these features work as they should with actual consumers behind the steering wheel. Meanwhile, gesture control remains a cool idea we’re hoping to test by the end of the year.

Press Release

Touch Command
Driver orientation is one of the premium hallmark qualities of every BMW. At the CES in Las Vegas, BMW is now presenting a system that has been perfectly tailored to the needs of the passengers in the rear: Touch Command. It uses a Samsung tablet computer that has a wifi connection to the vehicle and serves as a control console for both the infotainment and the comfort functions. Passengers are able to use this tablet in the usual way to make the rear of the vehicle feel like their own living room and for controlling the comfort functions to create a personal haven of wellbeing for themselves. BMW is thus demonstrating for the first time how the latest consumer electronics devices can be turned into integral components of the overall vehicle system.

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609036

World premiere: regular tablet becomes part of the vehicle. Touch Command offers unprecedented flexibility for operating the information and entertainment systems, while also illustrating how a tablet computer can be perfectly integrated into the vehicle. The tablet is kept in a crash-proof holder and can be recharged by means of a snap-in adapter. The touchscreen itself is therefore transformed into a high-tech-looking element of the vehicle interior. A BMW app on the tablet makes it possible to control all available devices, such as the Rear-Seat Entertainment System. When it is being used, the tablet can be either left secured in its holder or removed. All functions are permanently available thanks to the wifi connection.

Smart solutions and swift integration of the very latest technology. The BMW app provides a clearly arranged menu on the Samsung tablet, from which the various functions can be selected. The app functions as a remote control for operating the DVD player, for example, or changing the radio station. Touch Command therefore incorporates the functions that are currently controlled with the BMW iDrive Controller in the case of today’s BMW Rear-Seat Entertainment System, for instance. The tablet also doubles as an additional screen and can display controls without affecting the image shown on the onboard screen in the head restraints. So the radio station can be changed using the tablet while the navigation map continues to be shown in full on the connected screens. In addition to this, comfort functions in the rear compartment, such as seat adjustment or climate control, can be operated with the greatest of ease using the tablet without the passengers having to move in their seat.

Touch Command supports the customary tablet-computer gesture control actions for changing views, for instance. It can also be used to connect to the internet in the usual way provided it has the necessary mobile network connection.

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609037

Touch Command marks the first time that a top-quality digital device and its state-of-the-art functionality have become an integral part of the car. At the same time, the system also demonstrates how swiftly BMW ConnectedDrive is able to react to the furious pace of innovation in the field of infotainment and incorporate equally smart solutions into cars.
iDrive Controller
BMW ConnectedDrive offers an exclusive range of functions including driver assistance systems, digital services and apps. BMW’s leading-edge technology is also demonstrated in the iDrive control system, which allows safe control of infotainment systems even while the vehicle is on the move. In Las Vegas, BMW is now displaying a research application that shows how it will be possible in future to control functions not only with the iDrive Controller but also by means of a touchscreen and non-contact gesture recognition.

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609047

Perfect complement: touchscreen and iDrive control system The rapid proliferation of tablet computers and smartphones in recent years has seen a fundamental change in the way digital devices are used. In many areas, touchscreens have already replaced input devices such as the keyboard, mouse or touchpad, offering improved speed and more precise response. Users have now become used to performing intuitive finger movements across screens or using learned gestures to interact with programmes on their devices.

The BMW Group has noted this change in user habits and at CES in Las Vegas is unveiling an infotainment system that can be operated not only by the iDrive Controller/iDrive Touch Controller but also by touchscreen. The touchscreen and iDrive can each be used to control all functions. This is an important difference over existing hybrid systems that comprise a main control unit and a second interface that can only be used to operate certain functions.

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609048

To take one example, the research application on show at CES offers users the choice of either scrolling through playlists or navigation addresses using the iDriveController or entering numbers directly on the touchscreen. A virtual keyboard opens up on the touchscreen as soon as the user’s hand approaches. Even while entering letters, it is possible at any time to switch between the iDrive Controller, the iDrive Controller touchpad or the touchscreen. The advantages of intuitive iDrive operation can therefore be supplemented by an additional option, giving the user more choice. Regardless of whether the iDrive Controller or the touchscreen is used, both systems conform to BMW’s strict standards on safe data inputting while on the move. The positioning of the displays, in all vehicles of the BMW Group, and the suitably optimised text size reflect thoughtful ergonomic design and aid optimal data inputting – whether using the iDrive Controller or the touchscreen.

Direct data inputting with non-contact gesture recognition. Advanced sensor technology has already made it possible to perfect the technique of gesture control. This means of control is being showcased at CES in a research application that can be used to control selected infotainment functions. That is to say, a variety of functions can be performed not only using iDrive and the touchscreen, but also through non-contact gesture control. The driver or front passenger simply performs a directed gesture in the area between the gear lever, steering wheel and Control Display.

BMW Launches Touch Command and iDrive Controller at CES Interior
- image 609049

A 3D sensor in the roof detects whether one or two fingers are being pointed, or whether the thumb and index finger are being moved towards each other. The system decodes different movements – such as tapping, finger rotations or a swiping movement to the right – and performs the desired input. A rotating movement can be used, say, to alter the volume of the radio, a finger raised to accept a phone call or a swiping movement to decline a call. Like touchscreen control and the iDrive Controller, non-contact gesture control can offer even more efficient and convenient operation of new-generation entertainment systems.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: