Future VW tech in the Golf R Touch at CES 2015

Added: 15 January 2015

This year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), held in Las Vegas this week, has had a huge amount to offer visitors, with technology on display ranging from smartphone-operated bird drones, to enormous 77 inch flexible televisions, and even facial-recognition home security systems.

However, one area in which the show has shone, is through its automotive technological developments. Audi had its self-driving car, Apple showcased its CarPlay system, and VW got in on the action by exhibiting its futuristic new car cockpit. The interior, which was based on the inside of a Golf, exhibited a wide range of modern developments, all of which could see themselves being incorporated into VW cars of the future.

The most impressive of these is probably the concept car’s ability to sense and acknowledge driver hand gestures, rather than the traditional method of pressing buttons and turning dials. The car does this through a series of cameras located in the interior, which are able to recognise and respond to hand movements made by the driver. One obvious benefit of the system is that it will result in increased safety; usually, when turning on the radio or operating a touch screen, the driver needs to take their focus, at least for a very short while, off the road in order to see what they’re doing — whether they’re pressing the right button or turning the right dial. With the new hand gesture response system, however, no such interaction is necessary. The driver can remain focused on the road while still controlling the entertainment functions of the car.

It’s not just the car radio which can be controlled by hand gestures. One neat feature is that the driver can lift his or her hand towards the roof in order to open or close the sunroof. Similar gestures can also be used to control things such as the position of the driver’s seat and to adjust the interior lighting of the car. This will all be accompanied by some touch screen interfaces, which can be used to adjust settings and to view things such as navigation maps and radio stations. In addition, smartphones will, of course, be incorporated into the system, and there’s talk of apps being used in conjunction with the touch screen and hand gesture interface.

While this kind of technology might take some getting used to, it probably won’t be too long before the idea of opening a sunroof or turning down a radio with no physical contact is entirely normal.