Now you see it, now you don't

Siemens VDO shows off an iPod-like audio interface for cars at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.

Siemens VDO's touch interface turned on
With the system on, you can see symbols on the touch surfaces. CNET Networks

Some of the more interesting exhibits at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show are hidden up among the automotive equipment makers, such as this stealth touch interface by Siemens VDO. Although not implemented in any cars yet, Siemens VDO is showing it off as a concept. This black panel uses similar touch technology as the iPod, with no actual buttons. This example is an audio controller, and Siemens VDO demonstrated it with a USB drive, a docked iPod Nano, and a CD. You only have to brush your finger over any button to activate it. For volume, you slide your finger up or down the surface on the left of the panel. When you turn off the system, the backlight fades out so all you see is a black panel.

Siemens VDO's touch interface turned off
With the power off, the control surface goes blank. CNET Networks

Siemens VDO had a lot of other cool gadgets on display, such as a navigation system that uses a nav-equipped phone to get its maps and data. The idea is that cheaper cars won't need a DVD or hard-drive nav system, since most people will eventually have nav-equipped phones. Pair your phone with the car through Bluetooth, and your phone's maps will show up on the car's LCD, using a special Bluetooth application developed by Siemens VDO. We also got a demonstration of a nav system linked up with Microsoft's Live Earth service. This system uses Microsoft's map online map service for local search queries, and can download satellite maps from Live Earth to your car. Unfortunately, we don't have the mobile bandwidth necessary for this service available yet.

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