I recently spent a week in a lavish BMW 750i xDrive sedan, replete with enough trimmings to bring the price to a grand total of $129,245 (over £80,000 pounds similarly configured, or starting at AU$306,692). The car had BMW's gesture control technology, which stirred quite the question: what's a motorist to use this for when a touchscreen already exists?
BMW gesture control employs a camera placed in the headliner that recognizes five specific hand gestures. The car has four predefined gestures for volume up, volume down, answer a call and decline a call. The fifth gesture, as you may imagine, is customizable, but it's limited to commands that you can already give via other means.
I set the fifth gesture for the next track command – a fitting use given how frequently I toggle between tracks and radio stations. Prior to taking the wheel, I struggled to reason why someone would want to use gestures for basic controls that are available on the steering wheel.
The epiphany, it turns out, came after I shamelessly cruised through a McDonald's drive-thru. Given that this is America, and America tends to multitask while driving, it seemed like an ideal scenario to test a fresh input mechanism. As I motored on, I found one hand preoccupied with a warm, succulent McDouble, while the other gripped the steering wheel.
As fate would have it, Los del Río's only hit erupted through the car's litany of speakers, placing me squarely between a proverbial rock and hard place – should I attempt to do the Macarena with my hands full, or change the station? I settled on toggling to another channel, but considering just how grotesque my hands were from handling the aforesaid McDouble, I couldn't bring myself to touch the physical control on the car's steering wheel.
This, of course, is where gesture controls come in handy.
A quick gesture and the radio station changed, therefore saving the controls from my greased digits and fellow motorists from my subpar dancing skills. It's just one man's experience, but the moral is clear: if you're brazen enough to eat greasy foods in a six-figure BMW, gesture control will at least save you a trip to the interior detailer.