Kiwis' unclouded view of iVision

The car’s cool, the tech awesome … so how long before we see the stuff BMW has just unveiled to the world in New Zealand?

AS car freaks and tech heads, Kiwis are the perfect audience for a BMW showcase of what, and how, we’ll be driving sometime in the future.

That thought is expressed by a BMW New Zealand spokesman in regard to the parent brand’s demonstration at one of the world’s biggest gadget-fests, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

 BMW used CES to preview a series of futuristic interactive information displays as well as autonomous driving control innovations and mobile internet features it plans to introduce on upcoming production models.

These were packaged into a concept that seems certain for production, the i8 Spyder, a roofless version of BMW’s electric sports touring coupe that has found 15 owners in New Zealand.

“Kiwis are renowned for being early adopters of technology. We are by nature eager for new applications and development in the personal mobility space,” BMW New Zealand corporate communications manager Edward Finn told Motoring Network.

“These innovations featured at CES are a further glimpse of what may well be possible in the future.

“There are of course some restrictions on what can be released where and in what timeframe, but it’s exciting to think that developments such as these showcased could well one day be available in cars sold here in New Zealand.”

The i8 Spyder in itself is not new, having been first revealed in Shanghai in 2012, but the doorless version displayed in Vegas reinstates ‘droolworthy’ status as the iVision Future Interaction.
For CES the car was kitted with BMW’s next generation head-up display unit, which projects information relating to speed, speed limits and navigation instructions on the windscreen within the driver's field of vision.

The new tech, which Munich promises will one day be released in production form, relies heavily on cloud-based services and integrates Airtouch, the next step to BMW’s gesture control functionality which has become available in initially form in the latest Seven Series limo, which is now starting to arrive here.

The gesture control features three sets of sensors across the length of the dash, which includes a massive 21 inch display on the i8 concept, so the driver and passenger have individual touch points from which to control the long high-resolution display integrated sleekly above.

Airtouch anticipates the driver’s intended selection from the gesturing position.

Marcus Behrendt, Head of User Experience for BMW Germany, told media attending CES that the iVision concept essentially combines as many options of control as possible to give all customers multiple choices behind the wheel.

Safety is key so some services will only be available when the vehicle is in fully autonomous mode, such as taking a face-to-face call.

There’s more to iVision, however. The i8 Spyder also featured a nifty illuminated steering wheel to show when the car is in manual mode (blue lights) or fully autonomous mode (red lights). In manual mode, the dashboard console screen minimises to seven inches – on third its original dimension - and displays less distracting information.

The cluster instrumentation in front of the driver also adopted a different appearance and reinforces the role of BMW Connected as a personal assistant, reminding you to leave the house for appointments, offering route options to maximise driving pleasure and flagging on the heads-up display the maximum speed at which to take a bend.

Much of this real-time information is pulled down from the cloud. BMW says accessing real-time data from the cloud opens up almost endless possibilities, including – you’d have to think – autonomous driving.

BMW hasn’t specified when aspects of iVision might become a showroom reality, but a high-up reckoned we’ll see more sometime in the ‘not-so-distant future’.

As for the i8 Spyder? Well, again the production format is still a little way off, but it’s speculated that this model, and a more hardcore edition of the i8 coupe, are definitely coming.