As more and more electronic devices become integrated into our cars, we need new ways to control them effectively and safely while driving - or at least that's what Visteon and Immersion are thinking. The two have teamed up to share their expertise in developing touch-based, or haptic, controls for automobiles with a goal of production by 2010.

Visteon is a core automotive supplier of many varied products to carmakers around the world, while Immersion is a technology company that specializes in a haptic control system called TouchSense. By bringing their two specialties together, the pair hope to offer an innovative control system for future cars.

"The auto industry represents a tremendous international opportunity for touch feedback as manufacturers address an increasing number of features and controls that must be implemented to very rigorous design standards," said Chuck Joseph, Immersion's senior vice president and general manager, Touch Interface Products. "We believe haptic touch controls bridge a critical gap in next-generation automotive interiors and create a fast-growing demand that Immersion is ready to meet."

The end goal of the project is a consistent, intuitive and ergonomic design for human-machine interface, allowing drivers to interact with their technologically complex cars with a minimum of distraction, while preserving aesthetic design. The haptic nature of the design could allow such innovations as surfaces that appear completely smooth to offer dynamic feedback via vibration or other methods, simulating button presses or similar sensations.

Visteon and Immersion will be presenting a demonstration of the technology at the Visteon exhibit during the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 8-11.