Hand gestures to control car radios

New technology allowing drivers to control car radios, telephones and climate with hand gestures or even by raising an eyebrow may not be far away.

Mercedes-Benz showcased an experimental system called Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience (DICE), which lets motorists control basic functions with hand gestures, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Electronics experts think the technology will follow central control switches, touch-screens and voice commands and the audio firm Harman is already establishing a "gesture catalogue" based on human behaviour studies.

The system will have to be careful to avoid any hint of distracting drivers or people could be left open to prosecution but the company's director of technology, marketing and business development, Hans Roth, says that won't be a problem.

"It will be no different to taking your hands off the wheel to shift gear or change the radio station," he said.

"As with everything, it will be the responsibility of the driver to operate the car safely."

Harman, whose brands include Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL and Mark Levinson, is working on integrating gesture recognition into future systems but the gestures will need to be intuitive, easily recognised and differentiable by sensors.

Roth thinks that infra-red sensors will turn out to be the best solution for cars and that the best position for them will be near the gear lever so that they operate over just a small area.

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