Let's break down some of the big ideas BMW's bringing to this year's CES.
Park By Waving
Actually, you don't even need to wave to get this i3 Concept to start moving. From inside your house, simply picking up the key can signal your connected garage door to open and tell your car to pull out into the driveway. Out in the wider world this concept takes automated parking a step further than current in-car parking assistance systems. Once a spot is found, the driver gets out and waves at the car. The i3 then does all the movement on its own.
What's the benefit of watching your car park instead of sitting inside while it parks itself? Not much, other that the ability to fit into narrow parking spaces. But I'm a sucker for automation like this, as long as it works better than those infernal foot-kick tailgate opening systems.
The Bumper That Snitches For You
If you have a car already covered in cameras, why not use them for more than parking? Bumper Detect is BMW's take on the valet-mode recording in the Chevrolet Corvette. But instead of filming any motion, BMW's system monitors the body and bumpers for any unexpected impacts and immediately captures the footage. An alert goes to the driver's smartphone via the BMW Connected App, with available live streaming images.
Samsung Smart Things And The Smart Home
The i3 on display at CES intergrates Samsung's Smart Things app into the iDrive controller. This allow you to use connected smart home features inside the car, like turning off lights or adjusting the thermostat.
BMW's vision further into future integrates the car into the home even more with what the automaker calls Open Mobility Cloud. You can call it a personal assistant or an evil digital spy, depending on your perspective of this kind on technology. In any case, Open Mobility Cloud uses predictive algorithms to plan the day and give relevent information through BMW's smartphone app or – in a super futuristic way – a Mobility Mirror inside the house.
Even More Gesture Control
Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer using buttons to wild gesticulations when it comes to controlling car functions. But that hasn't stopped BMW from expanding on its gesture control first seen in the new 7 Series. Based on the sexy i8 Spyder Concept, the BMW i Vision Future brings us AirTouch. In the concept the driver can use the huge 21-inch diagonal display on the dashboard like a touchscreen without any actual touching. Instead you select and push tiles by simply waving. There is also a redudant switch (hooray) on the steering wheel.
The i Vision Future shows off a few other ideas we expect to see in upcoming BMWs. Most notably, a glasses-free 3D instrument panel. Once we get a chance to see this up close and personal we'll report back on whether or not this a good idea.
BMW's CES concept car also shows us the company's vision for autonomous driving with three specific drive modes. Pure Drive minimizes distraction and give the driver full control. Assist adds in all the chimes and warnings we've become accustomed to. And Auto mode takes over most of the driving. Each mode is accompanied by a different interior color scheme including a lighted steering wheel.
The Street Light That Charges
One final item in BMW's CES bonaza is so simple we can't beleive the idea took this long. It's called Light & Charge, and it exactly what it sounds like: a street light with built-in EV charging. Pilot projects are in the works in Munich, Oxford, and Los Angeles.