Although resembling something that one might see in a Scandinavian furniture display, this is actually a multifunctional controller that deploys a capacitive touchpad sensor that incorporates advanced handwriting recognition. It was developed by TRW Automotive for use within vehicles.
Explains Frank Koch, advanced engineering manager for TRW's Body Control Systems, "The increase in mobile connectivity has inspired us to create a single point of contact between the driver and applications used in the vehicle which will enhance user-friendliness, comfort and help improve safety. TRW research has shown that the use of in-vehicle handwriting recognition operation reduces driving deviations by 78% compared with the alphanumeric keyboard method."
Let’s face it: even talented typists tend to go all hunt-and-peck when it comes to typing on a vertical screen, so it is surprising that the number isn’t higher for the improvement with the system.
Although in this photo it is integrated with a larger control panel, the touch pad can also be used as a standalone device, even fitted into door armrests, not just for center console use.
The user simply writes—letters, numbers, symbols (including Chinese characters—this is, after all, an international industry—on the touch pad with a finger; the input is interpreted by the software and provides audible feedback once recognized.
According to TRW, the interface is useful for mobile phones, navigation systems, and the audio system, as well for as sending messages. What’s more, it has the potential of replacing simple switches within the car.
TRW can put the tech into production this year.