BMW HoloActive Touch system with its free-floating display to be shown at CES

BMW HoloActive Touch system with its free-floating display to be shown at CES
Credit: BMW

(Tech Xplore)—HoloActive Touch from BMW will be one of the likely attention-grabbers at next month's CES show in Las Vegas—just by its name you know it is something you want to check out.

So what is it? This takes the form of a virtual touchscreen next to the steering wheel. It's an interface between the driver and vehicle and BMW said it "acts like a virtual touchscreen; its free-floating display is operated using finger gestures and confirms the commands with what the driver perceives as tactile feedback."

That it is free-floating marks a distinguishing feature.

"For the first time, the functions can be controlled without any physical contact with materials," said Horatiu Boeriu in BMWBLOG.

Michael Austin in Autoblog used plain talk: "Forget buttons, forget touchscreens. In the future we'll just wave our hands inside the car and stuff will happen."

Sam Byford The Verge on Thursday also wrote about BMW's announcement. "BMW distinguishes HoloActive Touch from existing HUDs by using reflections to create the illusion of a display floating in space rather than on the windshield." JC Torres in SlashGear: "There are cameras that keep an eye on the driver's hands, fingers to be exact, and determines if a finger has made contact with one of the virtual control pads. If it does, a pulse is generated and the appropriate action is taken."

The BMW release said that "the image of a full-colour display is generated by clever use of reflections but now in free-floating form within the interior rather than through projection onto the windscreen. It displays flexibly configurable control pads and is visible to the driver next to the steering wheel at the height of the centre console. A camera detects the driver's hand movements within this ergonomically user-friendly area, and registers the position of their fingertips, in particular. As soon as a fingertip makes contact with one of these virtual control surfaces, a pulse is emitted and the relevant function is activated."

Byford added that the "HoloActive Touch works with services that are part of BMW's Connected cloud architecture."

"Holo" may evoke an expectation of a deceased rock star sitting quietly as a passenger in your car, but no need to let your imagination run off the track. Andrew Krok in CNET: "HoloActive Touch doesn't actually replace the infotainment system with holograms—that's still a bit too sci-fi. Instead, consider it more of a mix of a head-up display and a touchscreen. Reflections display information in full color to the right of the . Underneath it is a control pad that responds to the user's gestures.

Also, this is a look at the future. The BMW Group said this is another glimpse into "the interior of the future."

The CES event in Las Vegas event generally attracts viewers curious for what's next in innovative technologies.

The BMW HoloActive Touch system will be making its debut there. The company announcement went on to say, "BMW HoloActive Touch is part of the BMW i Inside Future study, which gives visitors to the CES, taking place on 5 – 8 January 2017, an impression of the mobility experience set to be offered by seamlessly connected and autonomously-driving cars in the future."


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BMW Group to show car tech detecting hand movements

More information: www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/ … terior-of-the-future

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Dec 17, 2016
I would be interested in a video or an animation. I have found some videos on youtube, but i would like to see such a display in action. Does anybody know a link to such a video?

Dec 17, 2016
Oh great now I have to learn a whole new set of commands just to turn the heater on in my car. I have a Ford Fusion with a touch screen and touch dash that controls everything. There is absolutely no way to change any setting without taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds. This is downright dangerous.

Dec 17, 2016
What happens when you scratch or twitch?

Dec 18, 2016
"Oh great now I have to learn a whole new set of commands just to turn the heater on in my car"


Don't forget that you can't turn the heater on before the camera lens has been unfrosted, because the car's been sitting outside overnight and everything including the rear view mirror is fogged up from the water from your shoes.

It's curious how manufacturers are hell-bent on making cars that break. An LCD touchscreen monitor on a nice clean desktop has a lifespan of around 10-15 years before the backlight blinks out or the capacitors burst, or the internal connectors corrode, or the panels delaminate and leak etc. and it's many times worse an environment inside a car with water and dust and temperature swings from sub-zero to frying in the sun.


Dec 18, 2016
The cost of the replacement LCD screen is most likely not that big a deal but the labor to install it will be the real killer. Consumers are funny, god forbid they should see a screw holding something together.

Dec 19, 2016
"Don't forget that you can't turn the heater on before the camera lens has been unfrosted, because the car's been sitting outside overnight"

Really? What kind of cars form frost on the *inside*? Not any kind of (german) car I know of. You must be used to those leaky american ones.

Dec 19, 2016
"I have a Ford Fusion with a touch screen and touch dash that controls everything. There is absolutely no way to change any setting without taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds."

I am so glad someone else feels this way. Touchscreens in a car are nice for navigation and other functions that benefit from a dynamic screen, however, simple controls do not. We are driving the car, why would we want to use a TouchScreen for everything, which Requires you to look at it? I want buttons, knobs, things with tactile feedback that I can locate and adjust quickly, without my sense of sight.

A good example are all these aftermarket stereos with the volume control being a touch function. My buddy has to tap tap tap on the touchscreen to turn up the volume, whereas mine has a big accurate volume knob that I can adjust in a 1/5th of a second.

The point is that, these are not "improvements", they are just "advancements", and we are not always advancing towards 'Better'.

Dec 19, 2016
"Really? What kind of cars form frost on the *inside*? Not any kind of (german) car I know of. You must be used to those leaky american ones."


Every car once there's any water inside. In the wintertime it collects on the cold bits of the interior from your breath alone and even with the heaters on full blast it tends to accumulate because the car rarely gets warm enough for long enough to evaporate it all. It's a real pain in the ass to keep a car dry if you don't have a heated enclosed garage.

Every time I drive I mop the driver's floormat with a tissue for the water off of my shoes, so I wouldn't have to scrape the windscreen from the inside the next morning.

But of course in Germany the winter really only last for about two weeks and then it's back to zero, so you never really get to experience the problem.

Dec 19, 2016
The cost of the replacement LCD screen is most likely not that big a deal but the labor to install it will be the real killer.


The manufacturers don't need to keep a spare parts inventory for longer than the warranty of the last car sold. As they change the models every few years, let's say 5 years running the model + 5 years warranty, the parts start to become rare about the same time as the LCD monitors start to break down.

For someone with a 20 year old car trying to source an OEM replacement, that will be near impossible because they've all been consumed by then, which is the purpose of the scheme in the first place: to get you to buy a new car.


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