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.