Continental is working on intelligent infrared technology for future control designs in affordable cars
"Back in 2011, we showed that an infrared curtain can turn any surface in the car interior into a user interface," says Fook Wai Lee, display developer at Continental in Singapore. "We have now developed this technology to the point where it also recognizes typical multi-touch gestures as input, like swiping, zooming, and pinching.” The technology even extends the recognition possibilities: capacitive touch screens, as known from modern smartphones, can not be used with standard gloves. Especially designed types of gloves are necessary for the usage of standard touch screens with gloves. “With our infrared technology, there is no need for special gloves – our infrared curtain is able to detect touch gestures of gloved fingers."
Continental's infrared curtain is built from an array of infrared light sources on the sides of the display. While a single row of LEDs was sufficient for one-finger operation, multi-touch gestures require two rows of infrared lights connected together. If a multi-touch gesture is performed in front of the display, the electronics of the human machine interface (HMI) recognize the finger's positions from the blocked light. In addition to having a cheaper production format compared to capacitive displays that recognize gestures electronically, infrared curtains can also be operated with gloves on.