Audi shows off gesture-controlled heads-up display

Across the Audi stand from the new A3's interior and updated Audi Connect system was a prototype of the next-next-generation of heads-up display technology.

The display comes in three parts: one in front of the driver, another in front of the passenger and yet another sitting between the two, viewable by both people in the front seats.

While the addition of two more displays is more novel than functional, the way you can pass information between them makes it noteworthy. If the passenger, say, looks up a restaurant on their display, they can push navigation instructions to the center display and on to the driver. It's a slick setup, but likely won't come to market for at least a few more years. Get the full details and a brief demo video below the fold.

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The head-up display of the future

There are many Audi display and control technologies that make driving more relaxed and under control. One of them is the head-up display, which lets drivers keep their eyes on the road. All key information from the areas of navigation, traffic signs, car and assistance systems appear to hover about 2.3 meters (7.55 feet) in front of the driver, in his or her direct field of vision.

The next generation of this technology will take a significant step forward. A type of display known as the contact-analogue head-up display positions symbols right in the real environment. As an Audi approaches an intersection with the navigation system activated, the driver sees a transparent route arrow outside of the vehicle, positioned precisely at the real intersection. As the intersection nears, the arrow becomes larger. At a distance of 10 meters (32.81 feet), it appears to be about the same size as a real physical arrow on the pavement.

That is not all that contact-analogue head-up displays will be able to do. In hilly terrain, the navigation arrow can show the direction the road will take after the hilltop. If the driver is driving with adaptive cruise control activated, the distance to the vehicle ahead is displayed conspicuously. If the night vision system is active, and a pedestrian steps out onto the street, the display precisely shows the direction the pedestrian is coming from and his or her distance from the car. In the contact-analogue head-up display, the projection window – which is referred to as the „eyebox‟ – is located somewhat higher on the windshield than today and is about as large as an iPad. Audi‟s work on head-up displays is driving progress in all technology fields. In the future, it will be possible to show information only to the driver, the front seat passenger or all occupants of the vehicle.

The solution that Audi is presenting at the CES takes up this idea. The driver and front passenger each have their own head-up display available to them; the driver‟s is contact-analogue, while the passenger has a conventional head-up display. Both displays show digital travel guides, news and pictures from video telephone calls. In the interest of safety, the driver is shown only static images and simple animations. If the passenger uses a wiping motion to pull the applications into his or her line of vision, all video functions become available.
Visible to all occupants is a central third projection, whose image appears to lie on the windshield. The driver or front passenger can move contents they are currently viewing to this central field with an easy, quick movement so that they can view it together. A camera detects the movements and directs the appropriate signals to the system.

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