If voice commands, touchscreen controls, a central dial, and steering wheel buttons aren't enough, BMW will soon have a new way to control the features of your infotainment system. With the release of the 2016 7-Series in October, BMW will debut its new Gesture Control feature.
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Gesture Control doesn't let you control the whole infotainment system. Instead it can recognize six preprogrammed gestures to accomplish a few select tasks. The gestures need to be made above the iDrive dial so a 3D sensor mounted above can recognize them.
Front seat occupants can turn up or down the volume by twirling a finger clockwise for up and counter clockwise for down. That's two gestures. The driver can take a call by pointing at the center screen or reject the call by wiping his/her hand to the right in a dismissive style. That's two more. The driver can also browse a 360-degree view of the vehicle on the center screen by pinching his/her fingers together and moving right or left. That's five.
An additional preprogrammed gesture, the two-finger point (think of Curly trying to poke out Moe's eyes), can also be assigned to one of seven tasks: Guidance to home address, Mute/Unmute, Last used menus, Next title/station, Recent calls, Notifications, and Turn off/on control display.
We tried Gesture Control during the media drive of the 2016 7-Series and found that it works fairly well, but it's not bulletproof. The gestures usually got the job done, but occasionally required another try to get results. The volume up/down feature is also hard to modulate. How many finger twirls are needed to get the desired volume? It's inexact and it will require some practice to master.
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For a video tutorial on this system, click on the accompanying video, in which Marcus Berendt, head of user experience at BMW, demonstrates the system.