Hubert Burda Media

Welcome to the future of BMW

The German automaker reveals how intelligent its cars will become.

Imagine you're driving to the office to prepare for a meeting. On the way, with a wave of your hand in front of the dashboard, you've managed to check your email, arrange your schedule, conducted a quick conference call and informed the office to set up the boardroom — all with the help of your trusty digital assistant in the car, which has also been turned to autopilot mode for the last 15 minutes while you do what you have to do.

That's the future that BMW is trying to build, as show when it brought its i Vision Future Interaction Concept Car — based on the i8 Concept Spyder — to Singapore earlier this month.

First unveiled in Las Vegas, the BMW i Vision Future Interaction shows what the user interface of the future might look like including support from high-resolution vehicle displays where the content responds to the situation. In order to make the interaction of the passengers with the vehicle as intuitive as possible, all functions are controlled using touch-sensitive surfaces, gestures and voice.

The interior has a thoroughbred, sporty and flexible profile. On one hand, it supports the driver in manual driving mode with a clearly defined focus. On the other, in its highly automated mode, the interior provides an opportunity to relax in the innovatively designed seats and use the expanded content available on the central information display. To add on, the BMW i Vision Future Interaction has a Head-Up Display (which screens key drive information), an instrument cluster with 3D display (located behind the steering wheel) and a 21-inch panorama display that extends over almost the entire passenger side.

The car is also intelligent enough to provide information to the driver about vehicles on the road ahead or oncoming vehicles not yet in his or her field of vision, giving sufficient response time in all conceivable traffic situations. This also applies during highly automated driving. If the driver needs to take over command of the vehicle, the system provides an appropriate alert. The technology acts predictively so that the driver has at least five to seven seconds to respond.

One of the interesting new developments is the AirTouch feature that allows gesture control for all communication, information and entertainment functions in the vehicle. Sensors are installed in the area of the dashboard panel that responds to hand movements. A movement of the hand selects the icon you wish to use. Push forward and the icon will be activated.

While the car is built for drivers to take the wheel and feel the adrenaline of being in a supercar, the i Vision Future Interaction concept also comes with a highly automated mode, where the vehicle takes over the wheel, freeing the driver to do what he needs. The sports seat switches to give it a lounge profile, with cool elements in the side upholstery, allowing the driver more space and comfort to look at the panorama display.

Having seen what the future holds for BMW, we simply can't wait.