Researchers Working On Touch Screen Steering Wheel

Researchers from various German universities have come up with a prototype touch screen steering wheel.

But before you start worrying that we'll soon be expected to steer our cars as if we're using an iPod scroll wheel fear not - this is a steering wheel that uses a touch screen in its centre for controlling radio or navigation systems.

Although steering wheels already have wheel-mounted controls, the complicated nature of many modern cars and the multiplicity of gadgets and gizmos means drivers often have to look away from the road to focus on in-dash TFT screens.

This steering wheel aims to eliminate that (or at least minimise it). It's the creation of a team from University of Stuttgart, University of Duisburg-Essen and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and is made from an 11mm-thick acrylic surrounded by a ring of infrared LEDS. At the bottom (the centre of the wheel boss, if you like) is an infrared camera, which detects reflections on the surface of the screen when you touch it

Following a series of tests, the team has concluded that the technology could significantly reduce the amount of a time a driver would need to take their eyes away from the road. The research team is apparently currently discussing with car makers the possibility of getting the system into a prototype vehicle.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (31) Join the discussion on the forum

  • jaik 13 Jun 2011

    This sounds like a terrible idea. How is removing tactile physical buttons and replacing them with a touchscreen going to stop people taking their eyes off the road?

    Currently I use steering mounted controls (which are actually on the column, so don't have to be hunted for while the wheel isn't straight) without looking, and sometimes glance at an LCD to check the radio station or similar while doing so.

    With a touchscreen I'd have to look at the steering wheel, which is closer than the current LCD and therefore going to take longer to focus on, to find the "button", press it, then keep looking at the screen to see if it's worked?

  • GreigM 13 Jun 2011

    How about heads-up-displays or (good) voice control? Sounds like a waste of time/money.

  • freecar 13 Jun 2011

    What a pointless idea.

    Buttons on the steering wheel for the audio as they are tactil they do not require looking at.

    You shouldn't need to use your navigation while driving anyway, set the destination before you set off.

  • Japcarnut 13 Jun 2011

    where's the airbag going to go? - have to be one of those new "down from the roof" one's here then? like this...
    I don't like any move away from using thumbs or stalks here - using tips of fingers AND having to look at it seems potentially dangerous...
    Makes you wonder if they are just trying to demo their technology and get some headlines, rather than have a serious prototype.

  • thinfourth2 13 Jun 2011

    The advantage over a button which you can feel is??

    Buttons are good you can work them without looking.

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