Gesture controls could soon be available for Volkswagen models after the German automaker proudly showcased the latest iteration of the technology at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. If you recall, Volkswagen used last year’s event to introduce the Golf R Touch concept car, the first production-based VW to feature a gesture control system. After a year’s worth of developing the tech, VW returned to CES with a more advanced presentation of the intuitive control technology, complete with an early series-production preview of the system that could make its way into production models sooner than later.

The tech, housed inside the e-Golf Touch concept, features the latest version of the Modular Infotainment Toolkit (MIB). The system is housed a 9.2-inch high-resolution, 1280x640-pixel display that itself is embedded in a clear glass surface. Inside the display is a home screen measuring 8.2 inches wide and 4.1 inches high and includes two configurable tiles that can be assigned with a swath of different functions. Since these tiles are configurable, a driver can choose any of 10 different functions, including media or phone functions. The system is also compatible with Volkswagen’s own MirrorLink phone pairing system, as well as Apple Car Play or Android Auto, two smartphone integration platforms that a lot of automakers are rushing to add into their own connectivity systems. It’s still unclear as to what kind of gestures will be available on the new infotainment system, but with the advancements VW has made on the technology since its concept debut in 2015, it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll be seeing gesture controls in VW production models in the near future.

As awesome as that sounds, it’s not the only feature that Volkswagen showcased at CES 2016 that can be considered as “on the horizon”. Some items, like wireless charging, aren’t really that revolutionary, but still interesting given that it’s going to be applied into a car. That said, VW also showed a nifty new trick with this tech: the ability to wirelessly charge using the rear armrests.

Other than that, there’s also electronic voice amplification and “Personalization 2.0”, a new feature that allows drivers to keep track of their personal settings in the cloud, thus allowing them to access these settings even if they’re in another VW car. An account needs to be setup in the he Volkswagen Car-Net system for this work, but it should be mighty useful, especially for those who have more than one Volkswagen in their garage.

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Why it matters

Every new car technology that’s unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show is a pretty big deal, at least until the automakers presenting them decide which ones are actually ready to be used for their production models. Some of these presentations don’t make it past this stage while others do end up in our cars of tomorrow. In Volkswagen’s case, it has spent quite some time developing the gesture control feature for its MIB infotainment system that it’s now a certainty that this feature will make it to production. The Volkswagen Golf reportedly will get first dibs on the feature, but expect other VW models to receive it soon after the Golf gets it.

Personally, I don’t see what’s so revolutionary about it other than it allowing the display to get spared from smudges. Maybe it’s my lack of enthusiasm in using gesture controls in my own phone, but I’ve never seen the importance of it. Others, including Volkswagen, apparently think that it’s important enough to warrant putting it in its models. That’s their prerogative and I’m not going to be the one who opposes it just because it’s not my thing.

What I’m actually more interested in is how Volkswagen will marry all these new features and combine them to provide a more nuanced interaction between the driver and the technology. I’d love to see how that translates into production models, and the sooner Volkswagen makes it happen, the sooner we’ll get our answer.

Volkswagen e-Golf

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Exterior
- image 565947

Read our full review on the Volkswagen e-Golf here.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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