A German research team developed a touch screen embedded steering wheel. The 11-mm-thick, circular piece of acrylic with infrared LED lights embedded throughout will allow drivers to view maps, utilize GPS navigation and control audio settings without taking their eyes off the road, and will be able to detect user interaction and take commands.
The researchers enlisted test subjects to come up with intuitive finger-swiping across the screen to set-up command cues: pinching fingers together to zoom out on a map, drawing a triangle to signal “play” on the audio system. Moreover, all of the gestures can be made with thumbs which allow the driver to keep his hand on the wheel and his eyes on the road.
When comparing the driving abilities when using the touch screen and when using the standard controls, the research team found out that “the wheel substantially reduced visual demand compared to a conventional console.”
Negotiations have been undertaken with car manufacturers to determine when/if their steering wheel can be incorporated into new car models.
There are still a few questions that need answers, as where the odometer and speedometer would go, and if the screen would break easily if the airbag needs to deploy?