The man in charge of human machine interface (HMI) design at Porsche says the current use of gesture control technologies, like those introduced in the latest version of BMW iDrive, are nothing but hype and a gimmick.
“We tested gesture control a lot but I do not think that this is the future. I think it’s in hype now and it’s not so exact.” Lutz Krauss, Porsche’s head of HMI told CarAdvice at the launch of the new Porsche 911 in Tenerife this week.
The new Porsche 911 uses the fourth-generation of Porsche Communication Management system (PCM 4), which employs proximity sensors that can detect a finger near the touchscreen and bring up additional options, but it doesn’t include full gesture control, which is in contrast to the direction companies such as BMW are heading.
Gesture control allows the driver or passenger to actively interact with their car with simple gestures, such as waving away a phone call or turning a pretend nob to control the volume, actions that Krauss says can be misinterpreted.
“For example if you say next track (by waving your hand) you’re also communicating with the man outside, ‘please go’, it’s a problem to understand what does the driver really expect with this gesture.
“In some other cars you have to learn the commands, its like in DOS, you have to learn “Format C:” and its not an object orientated dialogue and in a natural gesture to recognise what is ok, or yes or no.
"I do not want the customer to have to earn our language.”
Krauss agreed that the current systems are a gimmick but suggested that it may change in the future, once technology allows cars to understand where their occupants are looking at.
“With the algorithms that are available now [it’s a gimmick], maybe in the future the algorithms are more intelligent with gaze recognition and if I look at this device... but all this technology is going further away than gesture recognition.”
In contrast to Porsche, the likes of BMW are sailing full-speed ahead with gesture control, which was introduced on the new 7 Series recently and expected to make its way across the rest of the range as iDrive 5 gets rolled out across the range.
Porsche’s philosophy for in-car control has historically differed from other manufacturers.
The company dedicates individual buttons for each function in a car (eg. one button to close the sunroof, another to open it), a rather different approach to most manufacturers and one that explains the over-abundance of controls in modern Porsches.