Jaguar Land Rover, University of Cambridge Develop a 'Touchless' Touchscreen
The introduction of touchscreens on nearly every single passenger vehicle brings its own set of advantages of and disadvantages. On one hand, you don't have to worry about pushing multiple buttons and rotating five knobs to access one thing, as everything's located in one central area. Try driving on a bumpy road, though, and you'll notice just how difficult it is to actually tap the thing you originally intended on hitting. Another major disadvantage is just how much focus touchscreens require to use, requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road for troublesome amounts of time.
Touchless Touchscreens Are Coming
It seems like Jaguar Land Rover and the U.K.'s University of Cambridge have come up with a solution. The two have worked together to develop a touchless touchscreen that people don't have to physically touch. It may sound counterintuitive, but the tech, at least in the short video that the University of Cambridge put out, looks to have a few benefits.
The touchless touchscreen or "predictive touch" system utilizes artificial intelligence and advanced sensors to keep an eye on where the driver wants to touch the infotainment screen. The system then selects the item without requiring the driver to physically touch the screen. If this sounds like it's more complicated than simply allowing drivers to touch the screen, it is. But touchless technology has been around for years and there are some reasons for the system.
Easier And Safer to Use
The automaker claims that the system, at least in lab tests, was able to reduce the amount of time a driver spent using the touchscreen by roughly 50 percent. Apparently, the system allows users to select an item more quickly. It also has to be said that a touchless touchscreen helps to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, not having to touch something is a major benefit, especially as touchscreens are difficult to clean and disinfect properly.
"Our technology has numerous advantages over more basic mid-air interaction techniques or conventional gesture recognition, because it supports intuitive interactions with legacy interface designs and doesn't require any learning on the part of the user," said Dr. Bashar Ahmad of the University of Cambridge. "It fundamentally relies on the system to predict what the user intends and can be incorporated into both new and existing touchscreens and other interactive display technologies."
That last bit is incredibly interesting. Since the system is based on software and relies on hardware that's already in use on a lot of cars, it could be implemented in a variety of existing vehicles on the road today. It's not as far off as one would expect. The tech could even be used outside of automobiles and be integrated into public touchscreens like at the grocery store
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