BMW already has plans to install touchscreen fabric in future models, according to New Scientist
Researchers at the Polytechnic School in Montreal have developed a flexible polymer-based fiber with electrical properties that can be woven into existing fabrics. Imagine all the creative ways this would allow BMW to elegantly replace physical buttons or controls for a more minimalist look to the interior.
"In essence we are trying to reproduce the smartphone experience in textile form,” says researcher Maksim Skorobogatiy of the Polytechnic School in Montreal, Canada.
"We are looking for applications where we can weave in sleek, non-invasive control, avoiding blocks of push buttons.
The electrical properties change depending on where the fabric is touched, and finger touches or slides on different areas can be programmed to control air-conditioning or change the volume of the stereo, explained Skorobogatiy in the article.
The article confirms that BMW has plans to install the touch-sensitive smart fabric in future models, along with General Motors and aircraft-manufacturer Bombardier.
This should come as no surprise however, as BMW has already previewed touch sensitive technology in a recent concept car - the Vision ConnectedDrive concept
at the 2011 Geneva auto show, with its touch sensitive dashboard. For example, the heating and music controls were operated by the driver's gestures over the dashboard surface.