Now this is cool! How about turning your entire steering wheel into a glowing touch pad to control your radio? The interior space in the steering can be filled with a display with sensors so you just pinch and zoom or swipe with your thumbs while you grip the wheel.
German researchers developed a prototype steering wheel and are meeting with car makers to determine how to use it in the near term, even if it’s with a small touch pad reports MSNBC.com.
Just watch this 20 second clip.
The prototype is made from a thin sheet of acrylic with IR LEDs around the circumference. Then there’s a camera attached to the bottom that registers reflections made when the surface is touched (similar to Microsoft’s Surface if you’ve ever seen it).
So the driver can control a radio or a GPS map with thumb gestures, and it causes less driver distraction than conventional radio controls, said its developers from the University of Duisburg-Essen.
The steering wheel could be combined with an automotive heads-up display that projects info onto the windshield. And it could use a touch surface so thin that an airbag could break through it.
We’ve seen a couple of other high tech concepts in a steering wheel. Visteon Denso showed a concept dash with a smartphone embedded in the middle of the steering wheel at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Also IBM researchers put trackpads on either side of the steering wheel for thumb control.
Photo via MSNBC