BMW Steps Into New Frontier With HoloActive Touch System
New technology will be unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Showby Kirby Garlitos, on
If by some way we end up with car featuring Tony Stark-levels of technology, we could point back to the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show as the tipping point that allowed us to push beyond imagination and into actual reality. It’s still a big leap from that day, but BMW has arrived at the stage wherein the possibilities are now upon us. The German automaker is scheduled to introduce the HoloActive Touch system, a concept interior that removes all sorts of traditional interior features and replaces them with a floating protection that interacts with a touchscreen pad. If you can’t picture it, think Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The basic gist of the HoloActive Touch system is actually pretty straight-forward. It bears some similarities to the current head-up display tech that makes use of reflections to project an image and make it appear as if it’s floating in mid-air. The projection is synced into a physical touchscreen found on the center console of the car, which itself can be configured by the driver to perform a myriad of different functions, as if your fingers are controlling the images that you see in the projection. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the HoloActive Touch tech also has some of BMW’s own Gesture Control features attached to it, which when combined together, creates a pretty immersive visual interaction with the car itself.
The whole tech is admittedly next-level science fiction variety. We’ve seen different variations of it from Hollywood, but nowhere have we seen it adapted into the real world in the magnitude of what BMW claims it has right now. It’s pretty exciting to see what the future possibilities of the HoloActive Touch system are. Just don’t expect to see it in production form in the near future. Between head-up displays and gesture controls, it does feel like car interior technology is moving at a rapid pace, or at least faster than the time it takes for us to keep up with them.
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It’s an important step to a technology that could reinvent the industry
On paper, it’s the kind of future we’ve all been waiting to see. Gesture controls and hologram interfaces are amazing to imagine, but like most cool things on the surface, they become subject to a lot of nitpicking when become at least close to reality. I don’t expect BMW’s HoloActive Touch system to be any different, largely because factors like safety and convenience are now require to be taken into consideration.
The biggest concern at this point is how distracting this technology can be, especially if phrases like “personal digital mobility” and “extremely intuitive interaction” are now being thrown out. A floating screen, in particular, is something that’s going to take a lot of time to get used to for a lot of people and while it could serve a far bigger purpose than what we’re capable of distinguishing today, I think there’s still going to be a lot to learn about the system before any kind of real-world application happens.
Fortunately, BMW itself doesn’t seem to be in any rush to bring the tech into production. The system that we’re going to see at CES is still a concept and like most concepts, that’s going to be subject to a lot of discussion moving forward.
So whether you appreciate the technology or not, it is nice to see a company like BMW be proactive in developing these technologies. At some point in the future, a version of this tech will be used in some form or fashion. It’s better then that BMW is already setting itself up to know what that future technology could look like. Maybe it takes the form of something that’s close to the company’s HoloActive Touch system. Maybe it doesn’t.
The important thing is that BMW’s not going to be left scratching its head and scrambling to keep up.