Start looking forward to augmented reality and 'zero-gravity' seating.
Encompassed in the hashtag #ChangeYourPerception, BMW has showcased what it believes to be the mobility experience of the future at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020. A series of decidedly sci-fi demonstrations allow visitors to get a glimpse into the autonomous driving future that awaits us all.
The first highlight is the BMW i Interaction EASE stand with the focus entirely on the interior. Using artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and 5G connectivity, a gaze-detection system can detect when a passenger focuses their attention on an outside object - the vehicle will then offer information pertaining to whatever is being looked at. There's also an 'ease' mode that moves the seat into a 'zero-gravity' position, apparently to make occupants feel like they're floating.
According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design, these technologies are a means of helping passengers start their more relaxed journey with the sense that they've already arrived. "The BMW i Interaction EASE demonstrates what mobility might feel like in the future once autonomous driving becomes commonplace: luxurious, human, and intuitive." It definitely makes blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control suddenly feel old-school.
The sense of total calm continues with the BMW personal assistant that can darken the panorama head-up display, set the mood with relaxing ambient lighting, and even call up gentle sounds created with the help of composer Hans Zimmer - among his many prominent works are the scores for Pearl Harbor and Inception. If it all sounds a bit dramatic, one can see where BMW is going with all of this - after all, what are we supposed to do with ourselves in a future where cars no longer need our input?
While many of these technologies exist as future possibilities, the BMW X7 ZeroG Lounger is closer to reality and planned for series production within a few years. Also on display at CES 2020, the "first fully personalized recline and relax experience in a BMW model" is as grand as it sounds. The seat can be tilted by 40 or 60 degrees and is linked to an entertainment screen that you can view while lying down in the lap of luxury. Plus, the phone holder also adjusts with the seating position, which must make for the ultimate selfie. The seat belt, meanwhile, adjusts to whatever position the seat is in and the design includes a 'cocoon' airbag.
At CES 2020, BMW's vision of our driving future has little to do with driving at all. While true enthusiasts may not easily be won over, at least long road trips will be a lot more comfortable.