Clarion Co Ltd presented a car navigation system that can be operated without touching a touch panel and switches at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. Using four infrared sensors each located at its top, bottom, left and right, the car navigation system detects hand moves and works in accordance with them.
In the demonstration, a driver enlarged the map displayed on the screen by waving a hand from up to down and zoomed out the map by moving the hand in the reverse manner. In addition, if the hand is moved from left to right, the display will switch to double frame mode with a map at a different scale displayed in the right frame.
Musical files will show in the right frame when the hand is moved from right to left again and the screen will return to the initial frame mode when the same hand motion is repeated once again.
If a hand is held over the infrared sensor at the bottom of the car navigation system for a certain period of time, the menu display will be shown. Users can choose items in the same menu level by moving a hand from left to right and view items under the chosen item by moving a hand from up to down.
With infrared sensors located on both sides, the car navigation system can sense whether the driver or the person in the front passenger seat is operating the device. Based on this capability, the car navigation system allows the person in the front passenger seat to operate menu items that the driver can't operate while driving.
If the driver cuts into the operation, however, displayed menu items will switch to those the driver can choose.
This technology is a joint development with Hitachi Human Interaction Lab (HHIL), a research institute of Clarion's parent company, Hitachi Ltd. In the case of this car navigation system, the infrared sensors are controlled by an external microcontroller, but a built-in microprocessor in the car navigation system processes signals transmitted from infrared rays, according to the company.
"We intentionally made the reaction slow so people viewing the demonstration could see, but in fact, we can make the processing much faster," an attendant at Clarion's booth said.
Clarion intends to commercialize the technology as a new user interface that replaces touch panels and steering switches, the company said.
While considering including infrared sensors inside a car navigation system, "We also intend to replace many of the switches on the instrument panel with this interface," a company spokesperson said. As a future challenge, "Making the interface so user-friendly that even someone with little experience can intuitively operate it," he added.