Countless states have laws preventing you from using a smartphone while driving, but trying to find a button on an in-dash navigation system is just as distracting. To remedy this, Bosch has created an automotive touch screen with buttons that feel real so they’re easy to find without taking your eyes off the road.
Remember how you could operate the radio in your parent’s car without even looking? That’s the same idea at work here; minimize distracted driving by making controls easier to feel out.
The new display provides haptic as well as sound feedback when touched such that it’s able to recreate the feeling of various textures like rough, smooth, patterns, and even the edges of buttons so that a touchscreen UI can be actually be navigated by touch—not sight.
Bosch’s new touchscreens are also able to recognize varying levels of finger pressure like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus can. But here it’s used to help minimize accidental finger presses. It’s annoying when you hit a bump on the road and your hovering finger accidentally taps a nav unit’s touchscreen, but here drivers need to press harder—like pushing a phsyical button—for their taps to be recognized.
And as with the new iPhones the pressure sensitivity can be used to vary what the touchscreen does. For example, pressing harder on a button might cause a playlist to scroll by faster, or a map to zoom in.
There’s no word on when you’ll be seeing Bosch’s new touchscreen technology showing up in new cars or after-market navigation units, but the technology isn’t just a proof of concept either. Bosch has developed it to be adoptable almost immediately, so the wait for it to arrive might actually be just months, and not years.