Future Tactility
BMW & Toyota Unveils New Concept Cars
Text | Ztephen Lee
edit | Richard Kelley, Henry Lau

What do you see for the future of the automobile? That’s a question that we not only often ask ourselves, but also the world’s automakers. At the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which kicked off in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Toyota and BMW unveiled their own answers with their new concept cars, dubbed the Concept-i and the BMW i Inside Future.

Toyota Concept-i

Described as a “futuristic vision of driving a Toyota in the year 2030”, the Concept-i has built-in artificial intelligence named “Yui”. The AI agent will learn from and grow with the driver to build up a “driver-vehicle” relationship, in order to deliver a more “warm and friendly” driving experience, turning the inside of your car into a so-called “third place”; a place that we will spend most of our time other than home (“first place”) and work (“second place”).

With Yui’s home centred on the dashboard, Concept-i’s interior emanates around the driver and passenger side and throughout the vehicle in sweeping lines, with interior shapes designed to enhance Yui’s ability to use light, sound and even touch to communicate critical information.

BMW i Inside Future

The BMW i Inside Future features some of the automaker’s latest technologies, most notably the HoloActive Touch display system, which is gesture control on steroids that is essentially a free-floating, virtual screen next to the steering wheel. When users “touch” points on this non-physical screen, the inputs are recognised by a high-sensitivity camera, and watches for where users’ fingertips “touch” the screen. The system will then use a discreet ultrasonic source to emit pulses at the fingertip of the driver to correspond with the input, as well as visual and audible recognitions of the input. For the first time ever, the driver can receive haptic feedback on a touchscreen without any physical touching actually happening.

So, what do you see for the future of the automobile?