Suggestions
    Go directly to
      Press Release
      May 10, 2016

      With One Single Swipe: Continental Integrates Gesture-Based Control into the Steering Wheel

      • Gesture-based control on the steering wheel ensures more safety during driving, the driver keeps a firm grip on the steering wheel and a close eye on the road
      • Stripping away all that's superfluous: switches, buttons, touchpads and electronics on the steering wheel are being replaced and the system costs for innovative operation optimized
      • Further development of the holistic human-machine interface as an important step on the road to automated driving

      Schwalbach, May 10, 2016. A quick swipe with the thumb, a light wave with the hand, and the driver can accept an incoming call, activate the required driving mode or start their favorite song – gesture-based control is already known from the world of entertainment electronics and has been making inroads into vehicles for some time now. Further development of this new control system in the car is being driven by Continental. The international technology company has unveiled an innovation project that, for the first time ever, focuses the detection zone of gestures on the steering wheel. This is possible due to a time-of-flight sensor, which is integrated into the instrument cluster. Using this approach, the solution minimizes driver distraction and further enhances the development of the holistic human-machine interface.

      Where previous gesture-based control systems in the area of the center console meant that drivers had to take their hands off the steering wheel or take their eyes off the road, the field of action in the solution developed by Continental is much more focused. "With gestures in a clearly defined area on the steering wheel, we can minimize distraction and increase safety. This narrowing down also prevents the driver from unintentionally starting gesture-based control by means of their usual everyday gestures, and thus making unwanted selections," declares Ralf Lenninger, head of Strategy, System Development, and Innovation in Continental's Interior division.

      Reduced complexity for diverse applications and optimized system costs

      The new operating concept integrates seamlessly into the holistic human-machine interface and can replace other elements such as buttons or even touch-sensitive surfaces on the steering wheel. Instead, it uses two transparent plastic panels – without any electronic components – behind the steering wheel, which a driver can operate with his thumbs, almost like a touchpad.

      As a result, a driver will benefit from intuitive operation, while vehicle manufacturers benefit from optimized system costs for innovative operating concepts. The clear design of the panels is compatible with almost any control geometry and new gestures can be added at any time. In addition, the variable complexity ensures that the system can be integrated in many different vehicle classes and not just in the luxury segments.

      Intuitive operation reduces driver distraction and increases safety

      The time-of-flight sensor detects the motion of the hand and converts it into actions. The driver can navigate through the menus by swiping up and down, and confirm the selection with a brief tapping motion. Touch-free operation is also possible for other functions. For example, if the driver moves his fingers up and down in a uniform movement while keeping his hands on the steering wheel, he can accept calls or reject them. "These gestures are intuitive for the driver and are very closely based on the familiar operating methods of smartphones and other smart devices due to the transparent gesture panels. This simplifies the dialog between driver and vehicle, even for more complex applications, and driver distraction is minimized as well," adds Lenninger. A gesture is typically a movement linked to a specific property. Thanks to the time-of-flight sensor integrated in the instrument cluster, this development from Continental has a high rate of gesture recognition. The sensor comprises a 3D camera system with an integrated 3D image sensor and converts the infrared signal detected by the sensor into a 3D image. Consequently, the hand positions and gestures of the driver are detected with millimeter precision and converted to actions.

      The system can currently detect four different gestures: setting the navigation, browsing through apps and starting music, answering calls, and controlling the on-board computer. Initial reactions of test users confirm the selection of these gestures. In particular, they welcomed the proximity to the steering wheel, operation with the thumb, as well as the intuitive learnability of the gestures. "The development of a holistic human-machine interface is crucial for further strengthening the driver's confidence in their vehicle. Building up this confidence, combined with an intuitive dialog between driver and vehicle is yet another important step on the road to automated driving, one that we are supporting with gesture-based control on the steering wheel," Ralf Lenninger summarizes.

      Available documents

      Cookie Policy

      We use cookies to provide you with the best experience on our website. Click on "Accept all" to allow all cookies or "Change cookie settings" to decide individually.

      Note: If you consent to the use of performance cookies, you also consent to the transfer of your personal data to insecure third countries (e.g. to the USA). These insecure third countries do not provide a level of data protection comparable to EU standards. In the case of certain third party providers, such as Google and Mouseflow, no other guarantees are offered to compensate for this deficit. There is therefore a risk that the transmission of your personal data may result in state authorities accessing your personal data without you having effective legal protection options.

      For more information on performance technologies and the transfer of data to third countries, please refer to the privacy policy.

      By clicking the "Accept all" button, you explicitly consent to this. Consent can be revoked at any time by changing the cookie settings. The further processing of data already collected before revocation by the third-party provider cannot be excluded.

      A cookie is a small data file that is stored on your device. We use cookies to provide basic and convenience functionalities, measure website performance and analyze user behavior on the website. 

      Required cookies are always activated because they are indispensable for the operation of the website and to store your cookie consent. Functional and performance cookies are optional. All optional cookies are deactivated by default.

      You can change your cookie settings at any time by visiting our Cookie Policy or by clearing the cache in your browser. 

      Show more Show less
      Back
      Required cookies Required

      These cookies are required to provide you with key functions.

      Functional cookies

      These cookies are used to provide certain functionalities to you.

      Performance cookies

      These cookies are used to measure website performance and user behavior. All collected data are analyzed anonymously.