Once exclusive to sci-fi movies, now found on almost every modern gadget, touch screen technology has rapidly taken over our daily interactions with technology. The tedious knobs and buttons have mostly become items of the past while touch technology rules our smartphones, tablets and other gadgets.
While today’s cars sport the latest technology, touch technology has not penetrated this area much. Well, until now. Magna, an electronics firm, has been working on something it calls “Intelligent Surface Technology” which is in fact a system of integrating materials and electronics. This technology rests on an innovative concept called Touchskin.
Touchskin replaces the age-old knobs, sliders, buttons and switches with capacitive electronics similar to those found on an iPod. Now, all the usual functions of buttons and switches will now be carried out by touch interactions like swipes, pinches and taps (based on the function).
This technology has thrown open the door for innumerable applications but Magna has chosen to work on implementing it on a daily interaction with technology- driving a car. Using this technology, you can start your car with just a swipe of your finger, adjust the climate control with a sweep of your fingers on the central stack and adjust your mirrors by tracing your finger on the correct place of the door grab handle.
As you’re reading this, you will realize that this concept will completely revolutionize car interior design. There will no longer be any constraints regarding placement of buttons, and the required tedious wiring. This technology will focus more on ergonomics, and since it’s a full-touch system, it won’t be as distracting for the driver, since you do not have to take your eyes off the road in order to make some adjustments.
Touchskin technology will help carmakers like Renault, who focus on tacility and usability with regards to car design, to improve the driving experience by making primary controls easier without changing their placement.
Magna adds that Touchskin will be joined with a Integrated Device Molding Procedure (IDMP) via a Qi transmitter. IDMP uses NFC in order to charge various devices including smartphones on the particular surface, and can also be used to exchange information between the device and car. In fact, Qi connections are not vulnerable to hacking attempts, thus making it secure.
A glossy, ‘Clearmelt’ surface will transmit commands and also heal itself of chips and scratches with time.
If these innovative technologies are implemented in future cars, your car interior will soon be very different to what it is today.
The technology is still evolving and Magna says that technology may first be applied in cars by 2014, after being appropriately scaled to different OEM requirements.