Steering Wheel Pad Controls the Radio

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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.

Researchers put touch pad in steering wheelThe steering wheel was presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver.

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.

Source: MSNBC
Photo via MSNBC

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6 Comments

  1. That is a cool idea, but it would be difficult to implement because every passenger vehicle sold in the U.S. has an airbag mounted in the center of the steering wheel. I think it would be hard to make a high quality panel thin enough for the airbag to deploy THRU it without sending LCD shrapnel into the driver, but if designers can overcome that obstacle, it could be very useful.

  2. Great, now all we need is more hands too….. ladies will be checking makeup, doing lipstick, talking on the phone (not hands free of course) all while navigating the touch screen or using the GPS watching for a turn 10 miles away. Oh and then she will have the Kindle app too so she can read a book ALL WHILE DRIVING.

    Multi tasking is good but driving requires a little more consentration than most drivers are capable of then you add all the above and this is why people are getting killed on the road! Ill take my chances with drink drivers over these people any day.

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