Magna Intelligent Surface Technology: Like controlling your car with an iPhone

Magna Intelligent Surface Technology: Like controlling your car with an iPhone

Imagine starting your car with a simple swipe of your finger. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? That’s because it is, and here’s the good news: the technology is headed to your car.

One of the more eye-catching aspects of futuristic and sci-fi-inspired technology has easily been the ability to activate a myriad of functions with a touch, a swipe, or flick of your fingertips. Now, parts supplier Magna is bringing the future back, so to speak, with the development of what it calls Intelligent Surface Technology. If you’ve heard of a little device called the iPhone then think of that and you’re on the right track.

Magna begins with “Touchskin,” a three-dimensional surface panel that replaces the standard buttons, knobs, and dials you might find inside a typical car cabin with capacitive controls that help provide a fluid and unprecedented level of intuitiveness to existing onboard systems.

Controlling Magna’s Touchskin can be likened to that of a computer mouse, but remains in a fixed position. Functions that would normally require the driver or passenger to undertake some sort of physical or analog input can now be achieved with a simple swipe or roll of a finger around the centrally placed tool. In addition to starting the car’s engine with a swipe of a finger, drivers could also unlock the doors with a similar motion, adjust the vehicles mirrors, or shift gears, all with a simple flick of their finger.

Wedded to that system is a Clearmelt panel which features a self-healing, glossy surface allowing nicks and scratches to self-heal over time. But while Magna is the primary name heading up the technology, the various components are actually being developed by nine different companies: Plastic Electronics, Engel Mould Technologies, Schöfer, Magna Exteriors and Interiors, Hueck, Niebling, Votteler, Hennecke Polyurethane, and formquadrat.

Magna Touchskin

The whole system integrates via Magna’s exclusive Integrated Device Molding Procedure (IDMP) and tethers a smartphone to the vehicle wirelessly, and without the need of a Bluetooth or internet connection. Instead the IDMP utilizes upcoming industry mandated cellular Qi standards, which Magna contends is safer and can’t be hacked. Additionally, this enables the transmitter coil in the phone to connect via a “near-field” connection and allows for wireless charging.

Magna can even shape the interface’s electrical innerds using formable copper foil found inside the console’s plastic cover, so limitations regarding shape are virtually non-existent.

And while the technology might sound complex, Magna attests that the opposite is true. In fact, the system actually reduces parts complexity, assembly time, and component costs, and even carries an increased safety component by centrally placing the control interface closer to the driver.

In an age where touch-screens and capacitive controls are as ubiquitous as the smart devices they’re attached to, it seems only fitting this type of technology would begin creeping further and further into our lives. Coincidentally, the automobile is a perfect place for such implementation, which is exactly why Magna is shopping around its Intelligent Surface Technology to various car manufacturers.

Magna expects various components of its IST system to being implementation into various automotive applications by 2014.

Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Product Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 proves it's still cool to drive a station wagon

With the 2019 V60, Volvo argues the station wagon segment isn't as moribund as most other automakers say it is. The company goes as far as arguing we're on the cusp of a wagon revival, and the V60 is poised to lead the charge.

Ford imagines a future without traffic lights or stop signs

Ford is using vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) tech to allow cars to pass through intersections without stopping. The experimental "Intersection Priority Management" system basically acts as air traffic control for cars.

A public/private autonomous driving institute blooms under the Arizona sun

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM), partnering government, academic, and private organizations to develop self-driving tech and safety standards. Intel is the first private-sector member.

The supersized BMW X7 is coming with a grille you can park a 2 Series on

BMW will soon expand its lineup with a new range-topping SUV named the X7. The first-ever BMW X7 is shaping up to be the 7 Series of the SUV world in terms of size, price, and image.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Can't see all of a sudden? Our quick guide on defogging your car windows

Did you suddenly lose exterior visibility while driving because of foggy windows? Don't panic! Here's our quick guide on defogging your car windows in a safe manner while on the go, and a few steps on how to prevent them.
Product Review

Volvo’s redesigned 2019 S60 sedan is the best kind of remix

The 2019 Volvo S60 borrows almost everything from other recent Volvo models, but that’s not a problem. From its infotainment system to an available plug-in hybrid powertrain, the S60 takes the best bits from a lineup of great cars.

Carbuying can be exhausting: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.

Are European-style self-dimming and glare-free headlights coming to the U.S.?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposes to allow adaptive LED headlights on vehicles sold in the U.S. Adaptive LEDs automatically lower headlight intensity when they detect pedestrians or oncoming vehicles.

Porsche upgrades German factory to build Taycan electric cars

A Porsche factory that currently builds the automaker's popular sports cars will soon begin churning out Taycan electric cars. In preparation, Porsche is upgrading the factory to be high tech and low emissions.

Vanderhall Carmel adds creature comforts to the basic three-wheeler formula

The Vanderhall Carmel is the fifth three-wheeler from Utah-based Vanderhall Motor Works. It takes the basic design of the Vanderhall Venice and adds a handful of creature comforts, as well as a more powerful engine.

Race car or daily driver? Choose either with the 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS

Porsche has expanded the Panamera lineup with a midrange, GTS-badged model. Part race car and part daily driver, it's the variant we've been waiting for since the current-generation Panamera arrived in 2017.