Cars playing music and movies with touch-based interfaces isn't news - but doing it the way Volkswagen is with its new Global Open Infotainment Architecture System (GLORIA) is definitely something different. It's being developed by VW's Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), and it features some truly interesting ideas.

Taking on the likes of Microsoft's Automotive platform, which has spawned Ford's Sync and Fiat's Blue & Me systems, the GLORIA project aims to integrate consumer electronics with the in-car system in a completely modular and upgradeable way.

Based around Intel architecture processors, including the netbook-favorite Atom, the system can store digital music, handle full 3D navigation (pictured), view photos and videos, plus all the standards like Bluetooth and USB.

The lab car has an always-on internet connection and WiFi capability as well. The coolest feature, however, is the gesture-based touchscreen interface, which allows the driver to control the system with swipes across the screen, eliminating the need to look down to find a button or press a specific region of the screen.

So far, the GLORIA system is just a prototype testbed, but with all of this in the works, it's only a matter of time before some of these advanced features begin to make their way into production vehicles.

The ERL was also responsible for building VW's entry into the 2007 DARPA unmanned vehicle contest, a vehicle developed further with Stanford University and which has now become the 'Junior' project.

For more on the GLORIA system, check out the video below.

Volkswagen shows off GLORIA advanced infotainment system