BMW has announced a next generation interface, which is hoped to enable motorists to interact with their cars as if they were chatting with another person.
Natural Interaction, which was unveiled at the MWC in 2019, uses a combination of gesture, voice and gaze recognition in various combinations. The system recognizes and interprets the commands based on the situation and context, and uses machine learning to improve accuracy over time.
The system recognizes your exact hand and finger movements as well as the location you are looking for when you make it. You can, for example, point to a window and say "down" to lower it, or a mysterious button in the dashboard show to see what it does.
Gestures are not limited to the cockpit of the car. With HD mapping, you can also point to outdoor buildings and request information about them.
You can point to a restaurant that looks interesting and asks for reviews or a table, or showcased in a movie theater to determine the times and book tickets. You can even point to a field and tell the car to park there.
There are currently seven gestures Two of them are customizable: Pointing with two fingers, opening and closing the hand (a bit like squeezing a sponge).
BMW has also improved voice control and focused it on humans. A video demonstration showed how to tell the car that you can feel tired, lower the temperature, open a window, and play rock music to sharpen yourself.
"Our goal is to expand the boundaries of human-to-human interaction," Dr. Christophe Grote, senior vice president of electronics, at a press conference. "Our vision is an intelligent car that is becoming more and more human."
The Road ahead of me
Natural Interaction will debut in the BMW iNext, a prototype that was to be seen at the conference and which is due to launch in all key areas in 2021.
Currently focused Most of the system is on the driver (although Natural Interaction can detect gestures for both front seats), but future iterations could also extend to the rear seats. Like Dr. Grote explains, Tier 3 iNext automation (which allows you to safely look away from the road for a while) in vehicles with Tier 5 automation is all people as a passenger.
Natural interaction also reduces interaction. You do not need physical controls in the vehicle. Grote says BMW does not intend to just replace the iDrive infotainment system.
Part of the processing is in the cloud, but a lot is done in the car itself, which keeps your information secret and keeps the system working in places that do not have a reliable 5G connection.
None of your data will be sent to third parties. If you choose to specifically ask Alexa a question, you can do so, but the connection to Amazon will be closed once you're done.
However, you may never have to contact another virtual machine assistant. According to Dr. Finally, Grote sees BMW "Natural Interaction" as your "ultimate companion, anticipating and suggesting before I know what I want."
It is an ambitious goal and we look forward to testing the system in 2021 in real terms.
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