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Continental further developed gesture-based control in the car. Now the detection zone of gestures is focuses on the steering wheel. This is possible due to a time-of-flight sensor, which is integrated into the instrument cluster. It detects the motion of the hand and converts it into actions. The driver can navigate through the menus by swiping up and down, and confirm the selection with a brief tapping motion. Touch-free operation is also possible for other functions. For example, if the driver moves his fingers up and down in a uniform movement while keeping his hands on the steering wheel, he can accept calls or reject them. The time-of-flight sensor comprises a 3D camera system with an integrated 3D image sensor and converts the infrared signal detected by the sensor into a 3D image. Consequently, the hand positions and gestures of the driver are detected with millimeter precision and converted to actions. The system can currently detect four different gestures: setting the navigation, browsing through apps and starting music, answering calls, and controlling the on-board computer. Initial reactions of test users confirm the selection of these gestures.
Previous gesture-based control systems meant that drivers had to take their hands off the steering wheel or take their eyes off the road. Now there is a clearly defined area in which gestures are recognized on the steering wheel, which minimizes distraction and increases safety. This narrowing down also prevents the driver from unintentionally starting gesture-based control by means of their usual everyday gestures, and thus making unwanted selections.
Gesture-based control is one part of the development of a holistic human-machine interface. It is crucial for strengthening the driver’s confidence in their vehicle, yet another important step on the road to automated driving.