The 2016 BMW 7 Series is the first production car with gesture control. Here’s how it works

People have been using gestures in their cars for years, but in the new BMW 7 Series, they can actually accomplish something besides aggravating other drivers.

When Bavaria’s newest flagship hits dealerships this October, it will boast a trick gesture control feature as part of its iDrive 5.0 infotainment system. The technology involves using a 3D sensor to detect a series of pre-selected hand movements, each of which is tied to certain functions like volume controls, smartphone interfaces, and others.

A new video by Motor Authority gives us a detailed walk-through of the gesture control interface, with a little help from BMW’s manager of user experience Marcus Behrendt.

“What we have introduced is — for very easy use cases — gesture control, which makes life much easer if you want to, for example, turn up the music or turn it back down,” explained Behrendt. “So you can globally use this gesture whenever you’re in any of the screens and turn up the volume, and turn it back down if you like.”

BMW 7 Series Gesture Control

Having toyed with the system at the 7 Series launch event in New York City, I can attest that it is very intuitive and easy to use. While there’s a touch of lag with the volume settings at times, it’s a safe alternative to thumbing switches and accessing menus because you can keep your eyes on the road without interruption.

Volume control is just the start though. Phone calls can be declined with a simple swipe to the right or answered with a one-fingered point at the screen. When you’re in parking mode, the range-topping sedan displays a 3D rendering of the vehicle from an external viewpoint, and gestures can be utilized yet again to pan around the car with a simple pinch motion.

Drivers can easily program gestures as well by accessing vehicle settings. Choices include “guidance to home address,” “mute/unmute,” “recent calls,” or “turn off control display,” and BMW offers assurances that there are more to come.

Our first drive review of the new 7 Series will be up soon, so stay tuned for more info.


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