Google wants gestures to control cars image

The Internet search giant, deeply implicated in the new bid to reach a driverless car to the market by 2020 has now filed for a patent that might make controlling a car similar to playing a video game on a smartphone or Xbox Kinect.

Google is developing technology that would allow drivers to control the functions of a vehicle with simple hand gestures. The system utilizes a depth camera mounted on the roof of the vehicle and a laser scanner. If a driver wanted to roll down the winder, he or she would make a swiping motion near the window. Similarly, a turning motion near the radio would adjust volume or change stations.

For example, the Xbox Kinect or Wii use a similar system for certain video games – users playing the bowling game simply stand in front of a camera and act as if they are bowling and the movements are then transferred to the game.

While the patent fills the mind with what could be possible with such a system, it should be noted that Google isn’t really the first players in the market: that honor goes to Cadillac. GM’s luxury division already uses proximity sensors in its Cue system to sense when a motorist’s hand approaches the center touchscreen.

Toyota is also dabbling in the technology. The infotainment system in the Toyota RAV4-EV was specifically designed to simulate operating an iPhone and even allows pinching to zoom in or out on a map.