The spread of the pandemic has led to a corresponding increase in concern when it comes to touching shared surfaces. In addition to being a potential resting spot for viruses, touchscreens can also lead to distracted driving, as drivers must look away from the road for longer periods to touch the correct areas of the screen. Jaguar Land Rover has come up with an interesting solution to combat these risks, MotorTrend reports – a touchless touchscreen.
Developing Jaguar’s contactless touchscreen
Jaguar’s new touchscreen is a collaboration with the University of Cambridge, and has recently been patented. It makes use of two types of technology: artificial intelligence and sensors.
The contactless touchscreen fully eliminates the need to give commands with physical touch, and early trials indicate that it has the potential to reduce touchscreen interaction time by up to 50 percent. This increased speed is enabled by the touchscreen’s predictive sensors, which are able to track the direction of your gaze and the movement of your hand in order to guess what button you’re going for.
While it is still in its early stages, eventually Jaguar hopes that its contactless system will be fully integrated into the vehicle, predicting the driver’s every need and completely eliminating the need for physical entertainment, temperature, and navigation controls.
Why this matters
Of course, there’s one immediately obvious advantage of this new technology: eliminating the need for touch can reduce the spread of viruses, making it the ideal system for a pandemic. However, the new contactless touchscreen also fits perfectly into Jaguar Land Rover’s longstanding approach to safety and sustainability, a strategy which the automaker calls Destination Zero.
Destination Zero is a three-pronged approach to improving the driving experience. Its goal is to eventually create zero congestion, zero emissions, and zero accidents.
While the contactless touchscreen may not have much of an impact on the first two goals of Destination Zero, it can certainly help with the third. By speeding up the rate at which a driver can interact with vehicle controls, Jaguar’s technology should theoretically be able to reduce the amount of time that the driver needs to look away from the road, thus drastically improving safety.
MotorTrend also notes that this technology could be particularly beneficial on bumpy roads. Current touchscreens require a certain level of precision in order to touch the correct area of the screen — and on bumpy roads, drivers may struggle with this precision and be forced to look away from the road for longer in order to hit the proper controls. A contactless touchscreen, however, should be better able to predict the driver’s needs even in these less ideal situations.
Gesture controls in other vehicles
While Jaguar’s technology is very exciting, it actually isn’t the first of its kind. BMW vehicles have been equipped with gesture control, which registers certain in-air hand commands, for several years. According to TechCrunch, this technology is incredibly accurate, although somewhat limited in availability.
BMW’s in-air gesture controls currently only serve to turn the screen on and off, control volume and navigation, and access recent calls. TechCrunch notes that a vital feature — the ability to return to the previous screen — is still unavailable. However, as with Jaguar’s contactless touchscreen, it’s very likely that new controls will continue to be added as the automakers further develop the technology.
As of yet, there’s no clear timeline for when the Jaguar contactless touchscreens will start appearing in-store — but when they do, they will be a perfect feature to take advantage of both during and after the pandemic. In the meantime, we can’t wait to see what other features Jaguar might add to this new system.