Windows Mobile devices have been doing it for years. Palm devices for even longer. So why haven't high-end luxury cars offered handwriting recognition as a standard feature yet? That question may soon be answered - whether for the good or the bad - with the next-gen Audi A8.

Set for a debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the next Audi A8 is expected to come with handwriting recognition according to a report from Germany's Autobild. The input device will be a center console-mounted touchpad, much like what you'd find on a typical modern laptop.

The device would replace a plethora of switches and buttons on the center console stack, and could even offer effective use without taking the driver's attention from the road, much like Lexus's new haptic Remote Touch input system.

Audi has previously detailed its third-gen MMI system, which is expected to include a joystick-like remote to replace the wheel currently in use. But so far, no mention of a supplementary touchpad has been made. Whether this means the report is a bit too far-fetched to be believed or that the touch interface will be reserved for the flagship A8 for now, it's clear that Audi is playing its cards close for the time being.

Expect to see more of the car (see a preview here) and the technology - if it is indeed coming - as September draws nearer.