Getting In Touch With VW’s Concept Car

Dials and buttons are so last year.

Credit: / Johnny Yu

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Volkswagen’s first CES started with a big reveal. During a press conference at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, the German automaker showed off its Golf R Touch, a concept car with a gesture-controlled infotainment system.

Part of its “new age of mobility,” VW is planning on integrating intuitive controls and connectivity into its vehicles. The goal is “simple operation of complex technologies,” and the car company draws its inspiration from the simplicity of smartphone controls.

The press conference started with a short presentation of the Connected Golf. This is a specially equipped e-Golf with an infotainment interface that runs versions of Android and iOS (called Android Auto and CarPlay, respectively), allowing drivers to seamlessly integrate their cars with their mobile devices. The infotainment system can also integrate with smart watches and tablets—VW aims to make it the most connected vehicle ever.


However, it's the Golf Touch R that truly stole the spotlight. The concept car’s infotainment system is free of switches, buttons, and dials—it’s completely operated by touch and gesture controls. A network of proximity sensors help the car interpret driver gestures, and haptic feedback lets the driver manipulate controls without taking their eyes off the road.

The interface itself consists of three displays: a 12.8” main screen on the center console, an 8” control screen situated beneath, and a 12.3” active info display that replaces the vehicle’s instrument cluster. The interface is highly modular, allowing users to customize which info is displayed and where. As with smartphone widgets, a user can move the clock or outdoor temperature displays to a preferred location.

Volkswagen didn’t show its entire hand at this press conference, and promises to reveal much more when CES begins in full. We were told to look forward to demonstrations of battery recharging via induction (as opposed to cable), plus autonomous and semi-autonomous parking. We can't wait.