Volkswagen Plans to Make Touchscreen Infotainment Systems Obsolete

Automotive career

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Volkswagen demo’d a prototype infotainment set-up that goes far beyond current touchscreen technology. This new type of infotainment system uses a 3D camera near the rear-view mirror, so that the driver can control the infotainment functions using only hand gestures.

Some students might remember that it wasn’t so long ago that cars didn’t even have touchscreens, much less a system that takes commands from how we move our arms! Read on to learn more about the history of infotainment systems in automobiles, and to take a closer look at the features of Volkswagen’s new system.

A Brief History of the Automotive Infotainment System

If you’re interested in pursuing an automotive career, you’re probably aware of how over time, technology has come to play more and more of a role in the everyday driving experience. The progress has been remarkable; cassette tape decks were an automotive standard until the early 2000s and now self-driving cars are bound to hit the market soon.

From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, radio programming was the only option for in-car entertainment. However, a lot of cities didn’t have a wide range of music-playing radio stations and this was way before satellite radio became available. People wanted the freedom to drive to their own soundtrack, and that’s where things really started to take off. Here’s a quick look at how infotainment systems have evolved:

  • 1956: Chrysler introduced an in-car record player. There were concerns about the safety of operating a record player while driving, and the machines skipped if cars hit the slightest bump. There were a few versions over time, but this technology didn’t last all that long.
  • 1968: Metallic tape proved to be a much better option for listening to music than vinyl and the large 8-track format was introduced.
  • 1970’s: The compact cassette player became an automotive standard. Cassette tapes were affordable, and people could even buy blank ones to record mixtapes for their listening pleasure.
  • 1980’s: CD players started showing up in cars not long after their arrival on the market.
  • 2000’s: MP3 players became a standard and could be jacked into car stereo systems via auxiliary cables. Soon after, the auto industry’s move toward infotainment systems that rely on the internet, solid state memory and hard drives was quick. New systems included GPS software, Bluetooth technology for wireless communication with devices, and voice command.

With this progression, students pursuing careers in auto repair might wonder what the future of infotainment systems looks like. Volkswagen’s gesture recognition system seems to offer a glimpse—let’s take a look at some of its features.

Motion Sensitive Automotive Infotainment: The Way of the Future?

According to the online auto news website Car and Driver, who had the chance to demo VW’s new technology, the system uses gesture recognition to open and close the sunroof, call up power seat controls, and much more. Users can initiate the system by simply holding a hand up to the 3D camera and then use a swiping motion in the air to move through the many options presented on the screen. A “button push” motion is then used to make a selection.

If this sounds fascinating, students attending mechanic college will be happy to know that the 2016 Volkswagen Golf will be incorporate this technology, and is bound to be hitting showrooms soon!

What do you think will come next in infotainment technology?

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