Alps Electric has developed a next-generation vehicle interface, created using its own sensors and input devices. The interface consists of a Multi-Modal Commander, allowing for direct and gesture based input, as well as a Haptic Shifter which changes settings according to the situation.
The Multimodal Commander is a hemispherical device with a capacitive sensor and a near-infrared sensor. It can be operated intuitively not only by touch, but also by moving your hand around it. It also supports gesture input, using the space at the top of the device.
“The system has to detect whether the user is really reaching out to use it, or is just moving their hand nearby. This detection is done by creating a kind of curtain with infrared. If a hand goes inside the curtain, and gets close to the Commander, the system deduces that the hand is approaching to use it.”
On the other hand, the Haptic Shifter, a next-generation shift lever, enables the shift gate and load settings to be changed, in line with the user’s preferences.
“Haptic technology means we can create a variety of sensations. This device can change the shift gate from I to H shaped. It can also guide the user automatically when changing from low gear to second.”
In addition, those operations can be predicted, through the behavior-predicting IR sensor. This enables the device guidance capability to be called up before a device is touched. This is achieved using optical flow to detect hand motion vectors. The system can also guess who the user is, so it can provide different menus for the driver’s and passenger’s seats.
“We’d like to release this in 5 to 6 years. We’d like to market it not only for operating all kinds of equipment, but also as a way of making cars adapt to people. That would make cars fun to drive, by combining entertainment with driving.”