In-Car Tech

JLR, University of Cambridge develop predictive touch sensors for touch screens

Jaguar Land Rover has worked in partnership with the University of Cambridge to develop new technology.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

Smudges are the bane of the touch screen's existence. New technology has emerged from a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Cambridge that is designed to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses within a car, and, consequentially reduces the number of smudge points on touch screens.

The patented technology, known as "predictive touch", uses artificial intelligence and sensors to predict a user's intended target on the touchscreen – whether that's satellite navigation, temperature controls or entertainment settings – without touching a button.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar The Land Rover Range Rover Velar Photo courtesy of Land Rover

According to a release, the tech utilizes artificial intelligence to determine the item the user intends to select on the screen early in the pointing task. Gesture tracking technology uses vision-based or radio frequency-based sensors like the kind you find in electronics you use as part of your everyday life, "to combine contextual information such as user profile, interface design and environmental conditions with data available from other sensors, such as an eye-gaze tracker, to infer the user's intent in real time."

Trials utilizing the technology showed that it could reduce a driver's touchscreen interaction effort and time by up to 50 percent, as well as limiting the spread of bacteria and viruses. The tests were conduced in a lab and on the road.

Jaguar Land Rover is championing the innovation as part of its Destination Zero vision. As part of that vision, the company is working toward a world of "zero emissions, zero accidents, and zero congestion".

The company says that the predictive touch technology can be especially useful when traveling off the beaten trail, where it may be difficult to engage a touch screen button in a timely and orderly fashion. Additionally, it is in these circumstances where drivers will most want two hands on the wheel as often as possible.

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Sony's team is testing the Vision-S on the streets of Austria.

Photo courtesy of Sony

One year ago Sony surprised the crowds at CES with the Vision -S, a concept vehicle meant to further the discussion on safety, security, and entertainment. The vehicle has moved from concept to prototype, taking to the roads of Europe for testing.

The car has been driving the roads of Austria since December 2020, according to the company, for technical evaluation. Evaluation of what? We're so glad you asked.

If the car is technologically similar to what has presented at CES last year, on-board is Sony's imaging and sensing technologies as well as software regulated using Sony's AI, telecommunication, and cloud technologies.

Sony Vision-S The Sonny Vision S is a working vehicle prototype now. Photo courtesy of Sony

The car, which was built in cooperations with Magna Steyr, features 33 sensors, including CMOS image sensors and time of flight (ToF) sensors within the vehicle. These sensors are designed to detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the vehicle, and provide "highly advanced driving support."

Each of the two rows of seating in the vehicle features Sony's 360 Reality Audio system. Bose has similar technology built into the Nissan Kicks.

The crossover-lie car's front seats have a panoramic screen in front of them that has the ability to display rich content.

Does this mean that Sony will begin to make cars? The quick answer is no. Sony does not appear itching to get into the car business though the products that result from this testing will likely be available to automakers offering additional competition for components in a fast-paced marketplace where the technology is evolving quickly.

The real winner here could be consumers who will benefit from the stiff completion between suppliers and be on the receiving end of better technology because of it.

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Volvo has teamed up with the City of Gothenburg to create an emissions-free zone.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volkswagen recently announced that it's turning a Greek island green. Volvo is taking their efforts a little closer to home. Volvo Cars has teamed up with the City of Gothenburg, in Sweden, to create new urban zones that will be used as testbeds for future sustainable technologies. Volvo's headquarters is located just west of the town center.

Gothenburg Green City Zone aims to create an emissions-free zone within Sweden's largest port city, taking a holistic approach that will combine the efforts of many technological and government entities working together. To achieve this, the partnership is looking toward climate-neutral transportation modes and a connected infrastructure. As part of the testbed, Volvo plans to run robotaxis operated by its fully-owned mobility provider M, within the zone.

2-Volvo XC40 Recharge The all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge recently went on sale in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

"Essentially, we initiate a project that intends to limit the number of cars in the city – which is fully in line with our company's purpose," said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. "This is already proven by our investment in the shared mobility service M, who have developed proprietary A.I. technology to improve efficiency and utilization. We want to be involved in creating the cities of the future and keep them livable. This initiative gives us an opportunity to do that and take on responsibility in our own hometown at the same time."

Technology that will be tested in the zone includes geo-enabling solutions and services ensuring that cars in the zone operate in electric-only mode and remain within speed limits, as well as traffic infrastructure that can connect to active safety features in cars and share information between road users. Audi is testing similar vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in Georgia and Virginia.

"We want to use our knowledge and technology to help create a future city that is electrified, connected, shared and climate-neutral," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. "This is an opportunity to lead by example, by testing new technologies and services in a live large scale environment, we can show that if it is possible here, it is possible anywhere."

The partnership is also exploring fully electric mobility hubs, autonomous taxis, and an easy-to-use charging network for electric cars. One aspect of this technology may be park-and-charge sans cord, a method that is getting tested in Norway right now.

Volvo isn't the first city to develop an incubator for emerging tech. Toyota recently announced that it will expand the company's research into renewable energy by creating a city at the base of Mt. Fuji.

The Green City Zone initiative starts in spring 2021 and will gradually scale up going forward.

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