Currently reading: BMW working on new touchscreen infotainment system
Upgrades to BMW's iDrive infotainment system will include the addition of touchscreen technology, says design director Adrian van Hooydonk

BMW is set to offer touchscreen infotainment systems in the near future, according to Adrian van Hooydonk, director of BMW Group design.

“We will see some big steps in how you operate the vehicle, and voice control and head-up display is a big part of that. But, of course, using an iPad sitting on the sofa is easier than when you’re on the motorway. This is a challenge that we’re working on, and there will be a role for rotary-controlled iDrive for the foreseeable future, even as we introduce touchscreen."

Using touchscreen technology will affect the design of BMW interiors, although Hooydonk rejected the idea of a Tesla-style, flat, one-piece touchscreen dash.

“A touchscreen is a big surface, and as designers we don’t like to see big, flat surfaces. However, flexible screens are around the corner, and we are pushing for that. We are dreaming of a seamless integration between display and shape.”

It was not confirmed how far away curved touchscreen interiors might be, but it seems possible that they might first appear on future electric ‘i’ cars. Hooydonk referred to the i brand as a “think-tank that encourages us that big leaps are possible, and helps us to prepare for whatever might come, and we want to keep the think-tank alive.”

"You will see some big steps in how you operate the vehicle. Voice and touch-control are things that will happen. This is a challenge that we’re working on and we want to make sure that our customers get the best. Head-up display will be a big part of that, but I believe that new technology will allow us to take bigger steps in the design of interiors, as well.

"There will be a transition period between rotary controller, and there will probably be a role for that for the foreseeable future, but we will go to touchscreen control," Hooydonk said.

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Tuffty 11 March 2015

Don't panic!

I have driven BMWs, Mercs & Audis, along with a whole host of other marks such as Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, VW etc...
BMW's controls are by far the best thought out and most ergonomic to use. All the touch screen systems suffer from the problems mentioned in other comments but I am not concerned about this story as BMW is not rushing into this technology and appears to have realised that some of its customer base will not approve of the change hence the dual controls. Staggered by Typos1 suggesting more controls on the steering wheel!?
fatboyfat 10 March 2015

i drive Vs Touch Vs voice

I find Idrive very easy to use, only thing I dont like is the fact the menu does not show in line of sight. Glancing slightly to the left is fine, but I prefer to keep eyes front and the BMW voice control is frankly poor. In 5 years I have had the damn thing work once!
The other car is a Jeep and whilst the touch screen is ok, but again a off center distraction the voice control on it is actually very good and accurate.
Maybe BMW are making the change so they can integrate with Apple better. As apple maps are about 8 years out of date around me I fear for the sat nav sheep.
Clarkey 10 March 2015

Designer guff...

"As designers we don't like to see big, flat surfaces" - more like 'we didn't have the balls to do what Tesla did and are starting to copy them (and Jaguar) but in a half-arsed and disappointingly small way'.