Sneak peeks at future technology often come with a curious mixture of excitement (it's new!) and frustration (you have to wait ten years) and so it is with Mitsubishi's innovative EMIRAI automotive interface concept. While the system steers clear of the hands-free personal transportation envisioned in futuristic films such as Minority Report, it does explore interacting with your ride in some very compelling ways. From the looks of it, getting around by car will be a lot more interesting in a decade or so ... to say the least.
Among the new system's key innovations is a curved, touch-sensitive rear projection display that makes today's flat LCD panels look rather, well, pedestrian. Another interesting feature is the array of 18 steering wheel-mounted variable-activity buttons. To enhance intuitive interface interaction, only buttons usable at a given moment will be raised, the remainder will stay retracted. Gently sliding one's fingers over the buttons will scroll the display, too.
As if all that weren't enough, the EMIRAI interface also incorporates biometrics such as an infrared camera and Doppler sensor to measure facial temperature and heart rate respectively. Aside from telling the driver how he or she is feeling on any given day, that data can also be used to invoke pre-determined customized settings such as seat and mirror positions for alternate drivers and maybe even key-less ignition. Just so folks in the back seat don't feel left out, they've even thrown in curved, glasses-free 3D seatback display touchscreens.
"At Mitsubishi Electric, we suggest individual technologies to all kinds of car makers," said Kiyoshi Matsutani, manager of Mitsubishi Electric's Automotive Electronics Development Center, as he explained the rationale behind such an advanced look at his company's drawing boards. "But unless we show how these technologies can actually be used, manufacturers don't have a clear image of them, or understand what level of performance they've reached. So we suggest specifically how technologies can be used, by enabling people to experience those technologies for themselves." Judging from the excitement surrounding EMIRAI, it's safe to say the future is likely to arrive sooner rather than later.
Check out the video below to see EMIRAI in operation: