BMW Ag. is looking at ways to incorporate touch-sensitive smart fabric into future models.
New Scientist magazine now reports that researchers at the Polytechnic School of Montreal, Canada have developed a new flexible, polymer-based fiber that can be woven into existing fabrics.
Imagine swishing a fingertip along the fabric of your car seat to control the radio volume — or impressing guests by dimming your living room lights with a languid swipe along the arm of your sofa.
“In essence we are trying to reproduce the smartphone experience in textile form,” says researcher Maksim Skorobogatiy of the Polytechnic School in Montreal, Canada.
“We are looking for applications where we can weave in sleek, non-invasive control, avoiding blocks of push buttons.”
The electrical properties change depending on where the fabric is touched, and finger touches or slides on different areas can be programmed to control air-conditioning or change the volume of the stereo, explained Skorobogatiy in the article.
The magazine says that BMW has plans to install the touch-sensitive smart fabric in future models, along with General Motors and aircraft-manufacturer Bombardier.
“Touch-sensitive surfaces are a very interesting technology for controlling operations in a car,” says BMW spokeswoman Melina Aulinger.
One of the displays in a recent BMW concept car that appeared in March at the Geneva Motor Show, Switzerland, is operated via a touch-sensitive surface and heating and music are controlled by the driver’s gestures, she says.