Google has started working on an in-car system that will let you control a variety of in-car functions using hand gestures. The internet giant wants to let users control their air-conditioning, open and close windows, indicate, open the sunroof, operate the windscreen wipers and even adjust their cruise control speed without having to physically touch a thing.
Patent applications published by Google have revealed a number of potential gestures including a swipe to operate the windows, a twist to adjust the air-conditioning and a flick of the fingers to get wipers going.
“While a user is manoeuvring a vehicle, the user may wish to perform a number of additional functions, such as navigating to a destination, changing the temperature in the vehicle, or changing the volume of music playing in the vehicle.
“The user may perform a gesture in a region of the vehicle. Example regions include a steering wheel, an air-conditioning vent and an ear of the user,” a patent explained.
A number of 3D cameras located in the dashboard of the car will be used to recognise your movements. The system is purportedly sensitive enough to, for example, wind down a person’s window to a specific point depending on the length of their swipe.
Critics could argue flailing your arms around while driving could be more bothersome and distracting than, say, moving a stalk on the steering wheel. However if the system was intuitive enough then it may ultimately improve safety and convenience. Just imagine — it could even sound the horn automatically if you raised your middle finger.
Hand gestures may seem like the preserve of Hollywood movies such as Minority Report but gesture-based technology is becoming increasingly prevalent. The Xbox Kinect has been letting people swipe and flail for some time. Meanwhile, in-car entertainment company Harman and car manufacturers Ford and Mercedes are also working on similar systems.
Check out Harman’s protype system in the video below.
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