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BMW wants to wipe away touchscreen smudges forever with its AirTouch dash

BMW will travel to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that will open its doors next week in Las Vegas, Nevada, to introduce a brand new concept that’s known simply as the Vision Car.

The fact that BMW chose to preview the Vision Car — a name that won’t be retained — by showing a picture of the cabin is telling. Regardless of what body style it adopts or what it’s powered by, the concept’s main mission is to preview the first evolution of the gesture-controlled infotainment system that was introduced earlier this year on the 7 Series.

Most new features are centered around a technology called AirTouch that lets the driver control the car’s navigation, entertainment, and connectivity functions with simple gestures made with a flat hand. AirTouch uses sensors installed in the dashboard to activate the motion recognition software on a large panoramic screen. Once it’s on, the front passengers can navigate the infotainment system without having to make contact with the screen, and AirTouch reduces the number of steps needed to make a selection — such as to type in an address in the navigation system — by detecting what the user might need to do next and displaying the option on the screen.

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The user can validate an action by tapping one of the two AirTouch buttons in the cabin. One is on the left side of the steering wheel, and the other is integrated into the passenger-side door panel.  The setup lets the front passenger navigate the infotainment system without having to awkwardly bend over the center console.

BMW has a few more tricks up its sleeve. The car maker points out that AirTouch was designed to work seamlessly with autonomous technology, but it’s keeping full details under wraps until the start of next year’s CES show.

Related: BMW could launch a 7 Series on steroids with a little help from Rolls-Royce

More information about BMW’s CES-bound concept will be published in the coming days, and we’ll bring you live images of it straight from the show floor starting on January 6. While the concept likely won’t make the jump to production, the AirTouch technology might be ushered in by the next generation of the 5 Series that’s scheduled to arrive before the end of next year.