An experimental gestural interface for cars lets drivers control any part of their dashboard without taking their hands off the wheel.
Christian Müller, a researcher at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Saarbrücken, who co-developed the new system, says the idea is to enable drivers to adjust everything from the volume of the car stereo to the climate-control settings while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The prototype interface uses several sensors to detect the movement of a driver’s right index finger as it disrupts an electric field. It is based on the same principle as the theremin, a musical instrument that is played without being touched. Electromagnetic sensors located in the dashboard detect finger movements, providing the driver is holding the wheel in the recommended ten-to-two position and is driving straight. By detecting the different shapes the driver’s finger draws in the air, the system can detect and interpret a wide range of commands, says Müller.