It sounds like a gimmick, but it could actually come in handy.
Hyundai is looking to reinvent the way humans interact with vehicles and has recently unveiled a concept for a gesture-controlled door handle.
The automaker has teamed up with tech company Somalytics and has utilized the firm's new SomaCap capacitive sensor that it says will "allow consumer product manufacturers and developers to advance the human experience with the Internet of Things."
SomaCap sensors are rather clever and can detect a human at up to 7.87 inches. They're made out of carbon nanotube-infused paper and could improve the way humans interact with machines in the future.
"The possibilities of our sensor technology are limitless for automotive as well as other industries and applications," said Somalytics CEO Barbara Barclay. "It's incredibly exciting to see the potential for this amazing breakthrough technology come to life in these kinds of demonstrations, and we look forward to future collaboration opportunities with Hyundai."
And if you're fearful that this will be yet another unnecessary feature that will push prices up, think again. According toBiometricupdate.com, Somalytics sensors are not only cheaper to produce than conventional sensors but are also smaller and require less power. What's more, it can be planted in materials as small as 0.03 inches.
At first glance, it may sound like a gimmick, but the technology could prove useful in certain situations. Take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. People who travel in ride-share cars or taxis were forced to touch strange door handles on a day-to-day basis. This concept may reduce the risk of spreading germs through contact.
But let's look at this on a more practical level. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV has aerodynamic, flush-fitting door handles to maximize travel range. They're easy to use but can prove tricky if your hands are full. A parent carrying groceries and a young child to the car could consider a gesture-controlled door handle a godsend, for example.
No mention is made of how the system will correctly identify when to open the doors, but it's safe to assume the gesture-controlled door handles will work in tandem with the key fob.
Hyundai isn't the only automaker that's looking to change the way we use door handles. Earlier this year, CarBuzz discovered a patent filing by Mercedes-Benz for a door handle with a built-in display. The idea is that the handle could display information for the driver and passenger, such as the weather forecast, or give you an estimated arrival time for your journey. We also found that Volkswagen has registered a patent for a unique type of flush-fitting door handles that should make for easier operation.
Hyundai is no stranger to innovation, and this is an idea that could well make it to production vehicles. Somalytics says the technology can be used in other applications and expects to start producing the new sensors in 2023.