In 3 Months to the Innovation Highlight of CES 2017 – Motius‘ Role in BMW’s HoloActive Touch

We talk a lot about how Motius is working with the newest technologies every day, developing ideas and prototypes that may shape our future. Here is one of them — the HoloActive Touch by BMW Group. It is basically a mixture of a hologram with haptic feedback and gesture control. Motius was responsible for the hardware setup and the software running the hologram.


BMW HoloActive Touch: The Project

It was in late 2016, by the mid of October when a Motius team started its work, so just three months before the CES. The team consisted of three, a software engineer, a hardware developer and a 3D graphics designer. In this constellation, they were able to develop the software and the hardware setup simultaneously. Close and continuous communication with BMW was necessary to meet requirements and time goals. Since the hardware still had to be integrated into the concept car the time pressure was high, but by the end of November they flew to LA to do so.

BMW HoloActive Touch: The System

The system consists of a display, ultrasonic speakers and a camera. Through a set of mirrors the image of the display is projected in front of the viewer and appears floating above the middle console of the car. The camera locates the position of the hand above the middle console. Therefore, when someone “touches” the virtual image, an impulse of an array of small ultrasonic speakers is sent to the finger, giving a sense of a soft vibration. The camera will detect the movement and the displayed information will change accordingly.

Thanks to the agility of the young team, the prototype could be developed within this short time frame and worked reliably. The technology was integrated in a car interior design concept. Presented at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, the concept car by BMW and the HoloActive Touch was one of the highlights this year.

BMW HoloActive Touch: Is this the future?

With the IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) coming up in September this year we’re curious what new technologies we will see in cars coming up. Half a year ago, the sleek, minimal interior design of BMWs concept may have looked very futuristic, but Tesla’s new Model 3 shows us that we’re already there. While the Tesla comes with a single touch screen in the middle, other technologies to interact with the screen(s) may be required. The HoloActive Touch technology, which sits very conveniently in the middle console, allows to separate the input method from the screen, which can then be in a different form, e.g. a head-up display projecting the content into the front window, or a wide-stretched display across the console, as shown in BMW’s concept.

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