X-Wave concept from Visteon/3M: first pictures

Published: 02 June 2008

Want to see the future of the car cockpit? The X-Wave concept is a showcase for the latest thinking on vehicle interiors from automotive supplier Visteon and technology giant 3M. They’ve teamed up to fit out a BMW X5 – dubbed X-Wave – with new lighting and control interfaces that could revolutionise the look and operation of cars over the next few years.

Hang on – where have all the buttons gone? How do you get anything to work on this BMW X5?

All the buttons are there, you just can’t see them yet. The thin integrated centre panel, which at first appears to be a blank section of silver trim, contains all the usual controls, but only lights up when your hand approaches. You can arrange these controls as you wish, with the skin able to wrap over virtually any surface contour. And it even gives physical feedback when you select a function through a pre-programmed artificial vibration.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the Visteon/3M X-wave

Those displays look a bit odd too. Are they in 3D?

Yes, the dial pack is completely computerised, with sections using a new 3M film that creates the illusion of 3D without the need to wear any dodgy goggles. Through this, information can be layered graphically – say for sat-nav instructions and the like. The whole sweep of dashboard uses a light transmissive film that only makes imagery visible when it’s required.

What could all this technology mean for the future of car interiors?

This tech is still a few years away from production, but it signals a fundamental shift in the basic architecture of car interiors. Switchgear could be collated and then hidden on surfaces where it wouldn’t normally be possible to group controls – killing clutter in the process.

Dashboards could contain all sorts of imagery, some of it user-configured and installed like your desktop picture on your laptop. In fact, the whole dashboard could suddenly glow red if you were about to hit the car in front. The possibilities are endless; expect to see many of them in the next decade.

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