Distracted driving is the latest and greatest menace to the children of America, and automakers are both morally and legally obligated to reduce distractions to the driving experience. Voice commands are becoming more commonplace, even in economy cars, and Google is making moves towards in-car gesture-controls with recent patent filing.
The Internet search engine giant has shown a lot of interest in the automotive field, rolling out an autonomous car that has already racked up hundreds of thousands of test drive miles. One of Google’s latest patent applications calls for the use of a depth-camera and laser scanner to capture hand gestures to change radio stations or to adjust the climate control. It’s a lot like hard-wiring a Microsoft XboX Kinect to your car.
This would eliminate taking your eyes off the road, and could also make for cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing console and gauge clusters. It could also go hand-in-hand with self-driving cars, allowing for lane changes with the simple wave of a hand. The system will gauge not just the motion of your hand, but also what gestures (two fingers pointing, a closed fist, a thumbs-up). Also don’t be surprised if Google integrates such systems with apps like Google Maps, and may even bring targeted ads to cars as well.
With talk of a takeover of Tesla Motors and the rush to field autonomous cars, the idea of a Google car driven with just a few hand gestures isn’t so far-fetched anymore.