CES 2011: Next generation MMI, Touch debuting on Audi A3

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Take a close look at the photo above. You're looking at Audi's next generation MMI system being demoed during this morning's keynote at CES. The circuit board to the left is packing NVIDIA's Tegra chipset – the same processor powering a range of tablets and netbooks – and to the right is Audi's new scroll wheel, which has grown considerably. The reason for the added girth? Audi is incorporating the much-lauded MMI Touch interface directly into the scroll wheel. MMI Touch – which originally debuted on the A8 and is making its way to the A7 and all-new A6 – will continue to move down through the ranks of Audi's line-up and will debut on the next generation A3, likely to arrive within the next two years.

The revised MMI Touch will continue to include handwriting recognition, but will also handle scrolling and possibly gestures for panning, zooming and other functions. If you've used an iPhone, iPad or MacBook touchpad, you'll be right at home.

We also got a sneak preview of the Tegra's performance as it seamlessly rendered Google Earth, a new circular navigation menu and full 3D graphics. Audi claims to have over 100 engineers and user interface experts working on its infotainment software, and from what we've seen today, we believe them.

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