Proximity detection technology will open frequently used menus and sub-menus to make for easier operation.
Hyundai Mobis has pioneered technology that will make touchscreens a lot safer to use while on the move.
The parts and service arm of the Korean automaker says Quick Menu Selection - a proximity-sensing touchscreen - will enable individuals to access frequently used menus just by moving their hands close to the screen. What's more, these functions can be selected with just a gesture. While it sounds gimmicky, Hyundai Mobis says the new system should aid safer vehicle operation by keeping the driver's eyes on the road.
A proximity sensor is nothing new; late-model VW touchscreens could 'wake up' when it detected a hand. But the difference here is that Hyundai's system can predict the user's needs.
Quick Menu Selection, also known as Menu Pre Information Technology, uses the proximity sensor to reduce awkward touchscreen encounters. When a vehicle occupant brings their hand closer to the screen, the integrated sensor can predict the user's needs and automatically open frequently used pop-up displays.
This is the first time infrared ray sensors have been used for in-vehicle position sensing.
Automatic calibration technology (based on a detection algorithm) improves the accuracy of hand gestures and the direction of movement. The Quick Menu Selection system uses various UX and UI solutions to detect the positioning and distance of objects.
In certain vehicles, where useful functions are buried in sub-menus, this could prove handy. Studies have shown complicated touchscreens are distracting, and Quick Menu Selection will make for a less distracting user experience. Hyundai Mobis hasn't said when the technology will hit the market, so don't expect it to debut on the Ioniq 5 anytime soon.
Gesture control isn't new to the automotive world. BMW famously introduced the technology seven years ago and it was criticized for its poor response. It's improved over the years, and the automaker now refers to it as Natural Interaction.
Hyundai Mobis does incredible work, and recently teamed up with software firm Luxoft to create the world's most advanced infotainment system. The Infotainment Cockpit Controller MIS (pictured above) can have up to six integrated displays, and even boasts virtual personal assistants that aim to provide a pleasurable experience for passengers.
Perhaps Hyundai's parts maker and supplier will combine the two technologies for future vehicles, enabling a more intuitive and user-friendly system. The automotive world is currently divided over large interior screens. While Mercedes-Benz believes touchscreens are here to stay, several automotive designers have spoken out against the now-common setup.
DS designer Thierry Metroz referred to them as "a little bit stupid" earlier this year, while former Apple designer Jony Ive said he thinks products may return to physical controls that are more engaging.