BMW Previews Next-Gen iDrive And Lighting Technologies At 2015 CES

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BMW has presented a number of innovations at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show taking place this week in Las Vegas, with the highlights being a self-parking i3, new lighting technology previewed in an M4-based concept car, and a next-generation iDrive interface that is expected to arrive in the all-new 2016 BMW 7-Series due out later this year.

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The self-parking i3, which we reported on earlier, features the latest version of BMW’s ActiveAssist autonomous technology. The i3 has been fitted with highly-accurate position and environment recognition systems that rely on a myriad of sensors including new laser scanners. This enables the vehicle to manoeuvre in almost any situation a driver may encounter, using a 360-degree view; BMW demonstrated the technology by having the i3 park itself in a multi-story carpark.

BMW’s new lighting technology was previewed on a concept car called the M4 Concept Iconic Lights. It demonstrates ways in which BMW’s laser headlights can be enhanced by integrating them with assistance systems and vehicle sensors; these can then be used to implement new intelligent lighting functions for enhanced safety and comfort. For example, it can work with the navigation system to illuminate corners well in advance, while a laser-based Dynamic Light Spot can provide early warning of people or animals at night from a distance of more than 300 feet.

BMW M4 Concept Iconic Lights, 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

BMW M4 Concept Iconic Lights, 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

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At the rear of the M4 Concept Iconic Lights are new OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) tail-lights. These produce light from wafer-thin semiconducting layers of organic material. For the first time, both the tail lights and rear direction indicators feature OLED technology. The illuminated surfaces are positioned to produce a three-dimensional effect. And since OLEDs take up less room than standard LEDs, they create new design options, some of which we’ll be seeing very soon. BMW confirmed that a new M car with OLED technology will be launched in the near future.

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One of the more interesting tech previews from BMW at this week’s CES was a next-generation iDrive interface with touchscreen and gesture control capability. Yes, in future BMWs, you'll be able to conveniently perform various functions—such as inputting one’s home address in the navigation system–by performing a directed gesture in the area between the gear lever and the center stack.

Next-generation BMW iDrive interface, 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

Next-generation BMW iDrive interface, 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

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The gesture control feature relies on a ceiling-mounted 3D sensor to detect hand gestures. The system decodes different movements—such as tapping, finger rotations or a swiping movement—and performs the desired input. A rotating movement can be used, for example, to alter the volume of the radio or climate control, a finger raised to accept a phone call, or a swiping movement to decline a call. The touchscreen, meanwhile, works just like a smartphone surface. One neat feature is a virtual keyboard that allows you to quickly and easily enter data.

Another touchscreen system previewed by BMW is designed for rear-seat passengers. It relies on a standard Samsung tablet computer as a control interface for infotainment and comfort functions. The tablet connects wirelessly to the onboard electronics, allowing this interface to be used conveniently from anywhere in the vehicle.

For more CES coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

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