The technology, called the infrared blanket, will replace expensive control displays.
International automotive technology provider Continental is working on intelligent infrared control technology using in-car gestures. With new technology, Continental will make gesture control available to small cars. The technology, dubbed the infrared blanket, will replace expensive touchscreen displays and even allow gloves to be used.
Increasingly used in electronic entertainment devices, one-finger control systems will also be used in the lower segment of cars via infrared blankets, a cost-effective alternative to conventional touchscreen displays.
“Back in 2011, we demonstrated that an infrared blanket can turn any surface in a car's interior into an interface with the driver,” said Phuk Wai Li, head of display development at Continental Singapore. "We've already brought this technology to a level where it recognizes typical multi-point touches such as typing, dragging, focusing, zooming out and squeezing." This technology even expands the capabilities of touch control - conventional displays, as is known from modern smartphones, cannot be used with ordinary gloves. “Thanks to our infrared gesture technology, there is no need for special gloves - the 'blanket' can recognize gestures even with gloved fingers.”
The Continental Infrared Blanket consists of a group of infrared light sources around the edges of the display. While one row of LEDs is sufficient to operate with one finger, multiple fingers require two rows of connected infrared sources at the same time. If you make a multi-finger gesture in front of the display, the HMI electronics will recognize the location of the finger by the blocked light. “The problem is integration. Our goal is to create an infrared light source that extends right above the display surface and can recognize the multi-point gestures we are looking for, ”explains Fuk Wai Li.
Thanks to this technology, drivers will not only be able to perform all normal multi-finger actions, but also easily control the navigation map using gestures. Continental technologies will be ready for series production in 2017.