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BMW's concept features a light show

BMW releases pictures of its Vision ConnectedDrive concept ahead of the 2011 Geneva auto show.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
BMW's new concept looks like something out of 'Tron,' and is meant to show a new type of technology interface. BMW

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept (photos)

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When BMW came up with iDrive, however flawed that first-generation system might have been, it showed the company was as interested in pushing the technology interface envelope as much as it has driving engineering. The Vision ConnectedDrive concept, to be unveiled at the Geneva auto show, demonstrates that BMW is not done pushing these boundaries.

The car itself, a roadster, employs unique lines and very retro headrests molded into the body. But then the "Tron" elements come in. The entire car is interlaced with lighting effects that signify three different interface levels: safety, infotainment, and comfort. The configuration and color of the lighting is unique to each interface level.

For each interface, BMW explores new ways the car can use external data connections to enhance the driving experience. Some of BMW's descriptions get very arcane, such as this: "the Infotainment zone defines a communication level between the driver and the passenger and also spatially promotes active social exchange and the encounter between the two."

Given BMW's history in pushing iDrive into production models, maybe we will see the technologies shown in the Vision ConnectedDrive brought wholesale into a future BMW model.