Dealing with the smartphone while moving is one of the thorniest issues for car designers to resolve. Having the entirety of the world’s knowledge (or, more likely, all those texts and memes) at your fingertips is addicting — and incredibly distracting while driving. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which port some smartphone functions to a larger touchscreen, only modestly improve the situation. And the best solution —real self-driving cars, remains a distant prospect for passenger vehicles — at least for everyone not named Elon Musk.
Jaguar Land Rover, however, has just announced an intriguing solution to this pressing problem: a new form of contactless touchscreen technology. The system employs sensors and artificial intelligence to predict what you want to touch on the screen ahead of time and execute that command without you physically touching it. JLR says it reduces effort and time by 50 percent compared with a regular touchscreen; plus, as a side effect, it helps reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.
While the promo video featured a new Defender, the company did not mention when — or even if — this technology will arrive in JLR's vehicles. Because the feature is software-based, however, JLR says it can be retrofitted to any touchscreen capable of producing the data it requires.
There are reasons to be skeptical about this technology. As seen in the efforts of companies like Lexus and Acura, innovations to improve on the touchscreen can end up more distracting than the touchscreen itself. And while style, performance and luxury are hallmarks of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, the British duo aren’t exactly the first names that come to mind when you think of carmakers that flawlessly execute electrical systems.
That said, you can expect almost every manufacturer to continue plowing research and development into AI technologies like this, thanks to the growth potential. Mercedes believes its MBUX technology could be as profitable as selling road cars, which gives you a little idea of just how much in the way of changes we can expect to see in the field in the future.