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BMW brings 'holograms' into the car for CES 2017

The HoloActive Touch concept is a blend of a head-up display and a traditional touchscreen, complete with gesture controls.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

CES is less about cars and more about dazzling the everloving hell out of every human in attendance. To that end, is likely to succeed with its HoloActive Touch interior concept.

HoloActive Touch doesn't actually replace the infotainment system with holograms -- that's still a bit too sci-fi. Instead, consider it more of a mix of a head-up display and a touchscreen. Reflections display information in full color to the right of the steering wheel. Underneath it is a control pad that responds to the user's gestures.

BMW HoloActive Touch
Enlarge Image
BMW HoloActive Touch

I do not want to know what a German driver has stored in his "Me Time" folder.


One of the most interesting parts is how commands are confirmed. BMW claims HoloActive Touch provides "what the driver perceives as tactile feedback." That's fairly confusing, especially since you're not supposed to be touching anything, so I'll just let BMW explain this one in its own words: "As soon as a fingertip makes contact with one of these virtual control surfaces, a pulse is emitted and the relevant function is activated." So you are supposed to touch it? How does one touch something that is virtual?

Maybe it's referring to the screen that houses the reflected display, which would make sense. That would be a reasonable leap in technology from BMW's CES 2016 system, AirTouch, which relied heavily on three-dimensional gesture control but required the driver to touch a physical button to confirm any action.

No matter how confusing HoloActive Touch may sound, if BMW is offering hands-on demonstrations at CES next month, you can bet your last ha'penny that I'm going to sit down and figure out how this whole thing works.