Visteon shows virtual dashboard interface

Visteon showed a conceptual dashboard that uses an infrared field to sense finger placement.

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

Visteon IR panel
Breaking the infrared curtain with a finger causes a function area to activate, making for a virtual button pad. James Martin/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Automotive supplier Visteon showed off a conceptual buttonless dashboard at CES 2011. This dashboard uses an infrared field to determine finger placement, which it then correlates to different functions.

Although its display included a panel showing button placement, this panel merely indicates to drivers where they should touch to activate volume, scrolling, and other functions. The panel is actually inert.

Infrared emitters flank the panel projecting what Visteon calls a curtain. This system can sense where the curtain gets broken, such as when a driver touches one of the inert button areas. Each area in the curtain equates to a function.

Trying out the system, we found that it was not always accurate, sometimes displaying a different function on the screen than what we touched on the panel. But this technology is in purely conceptual stage and will be refined further.

Visteon showed different panels with metal, wood, and plastic, demonstrating how the system gives automakers flexibility with their interior design.