The entire point of touchscreens is, well, to touch them. But in an age of coronavirus, they’re far from ideal. Which is why Jaguar Land Rover is trialling new contactless technology…
Contactless Touchscreen Technology
Jaguar Land Rover has decided to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic by developing new contactless touchscreen technology. The patented ‘preventative touch’ tech has been developed in collaboration with engineers from the University of Cambridge. Using sensors, it aims to prevent the transmission of viruses. In addition to saving everyone from a 21st century plague, JLR claims the technology can reduce touchscreen usage time by up to 50%. Given that research has suggested touchscreens are worse for reaction times than alcohol, that’s a key bit of safety innovation.
Preventative touch works by tracking a user’s movements via radio or vision-based sensors, eye-gaze tracking and interface design to infer which buttons are going to be pressed. Whilst some car infotainment systems, like Volkswagen’s, respond to gestures JLR’s is far more advanced.
Lee Skrypchuk, a JLR tech specialist, said “predictive touch technology eliminates the need to touch an interactive display; and could therefore reduce the risk of spreading bacteria or viruses on surfaces”. He added, “the technology also offers us the chance to make vehicles safer by reducing the cognitive load on drivers and increasing the amount of time they can spend focused on the road ahead. This is a key part of our Destination Zero journey”. Destination Zero refers to the company’s plan to reach a future point in which its vehicles cause no fatalities or serious injuries.
Simon Godsill, an engineering professor at the University of Cambridge, claims the preventative touch technology improves on touchscreen features in general. He said, “touchscreens and other interactive displays are something most people use multiple times per day. But they can be difficult to use while in motion. Whether that’s driving a car or changing the music on your phone while you’re running. We also know that certain pathogens can be transmitted via surfaces. So this technology could help reduce the risk for that type of transmission”.
JLR’s technology, then, can help reduce the spread of coronavirus within vehicles and improve driving safety by cutting down on how distracting infotainment systems can be. That said, it doesn’t quite solve the problem of shared door handles and other facilities. In addition, there are no concrete plans to include the technology in JRL vehicles; although the company claims it’s compatible with current hardware.
Frankly, the case for preventing communicable viruses is probably going to be of less interest to drivers and commercial fleets than the safety improvements. Reducing distraction times by 50%, after all, is a great way of reducing accident rates overall.
Car Touchscreens Are ‘Worse For Reaction Times Than Drink-Driving’ – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/car-touchscreens-are-worse-for-reaction-times-than-drink-driving/
The In-Car Technology That Should Come As Standard – https://www.autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/the-in-car-technology-that-should-come-as-standard/