Forget physical controls - it's all about touch, light, and holograms.
As carmakers adapt to the needs of consumers, automotive parts suppliers also need to change to suit the needs of their clients.
Marquardt Group produces components for big names like Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, and the firm built a demonstration interior that houses several key technologies that will make life easier for the driver and passenger.
The German companny recently spoke to Automotive News, to explain how it is navigating the world of touchscreens and future interior design.
One of the more interesting features is the capacitive touch doors. Gone are the traditional handles we know and love; Marquardt's futuristic solution allows the door to be opened or closed by just touching the door panel. Alternatively, it can also be controlled via a smartphone or by hand gesture.
While buttons and switches have largely been replaced by touchscreens, Marquardt is experimenting with "switch" icons. This is a rather interesting development. The icons are activated when a finger touches the projection, disrupting the light beam. It's a peculiar solution, and we'd certainly be keen to experience this to see how it fares against traditional buttons or a touchscreen.
Recently, Hyundai's head designer said the company has no plans to remove physical controls from future vehicles - despite where the industry is heading.
Moving on to the steering wheel, small crystal steering wheel screens can be used to scroll through pre-programmed menus. It will allow the driver to navigate the various functions and simply requires a quick thumb tap to change the menu. This sounds very similar to the touch-sensitive buttons first seen on the W213 Mercedes E-Class, but will presumably be more advanced.
Lastly, the company has created an EV charge port that features a "screen" that displays all the information you need without any fuss. Because it's a holographic display, it's resistant to dirt, moisture, road grime, and pesky fingerprints.
"The one thing you can say about all this technology is that it is getting smarter," said Marquardt's Branden Jarbo. "The old-fashioned switch, which used to be a [mechanical] contact for us, is now a microcontroller sitting on a [controller area network] bus communicating with a supercomputer in the vehicle. It's providing a heck of a lot more information."
In the electric era, the interior has changed to meet the needs of modern consumers. Despite the obvious safety concerns, touchscreens remain the most popular choice. Hopefully, companies like Marquardt can find a balance between the desire for a minimalist interior look and safe, ergonomic controls in-car controls.
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