BMW introduced the the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, its new product called “Natural Interaction”, which combines the most advanced voice command technology available with expanded gesture control and gaze recognition to enable genuine multimodal operation for the first time. The first BMW Natural Interaction functions will be available in the BMW iNEXT from 2021.

The BMW Natural Interaction allows the driver to use their voice, gestures and gaze at the same time in various combinations to interact with their vehicle. The preferred mode of operation can be selected intuitively, according to the situation and context. Voice commands, gestures and the direction of gaze can be reliably detected by the vehicle, combined and the desired operation executed.

This free, multimodal interaction is made possible by speech recognition, optimized sensor technology and context-sensitive analysis of gestures. Spoken instructions are registered and processed using Natural Language Understanding. An intelligent learning algorithm, which is constantly being refined, combines and interprets the complex information so that the vehicle can respond accordingly. This creates a multimodal interactive experience geared towards the driver’s wishes.

The driver decides how they want to interact with the car, based on their own personal preferences, habits or the current situation. So, when the driver is engaged in conversation, they would probably choose gesture and gaze control; when their eyes are on the road, better to rely on speech and gestures. In this way, for example, car windows or the sunroof can be opened or closed, air vents adjusted or a selection made on the Control Display. If the driver wants to learn more about vehicle functions, they can also point to buttons and ask what they do.

With enhanced gesture recognition and the car’s high level of connectivity, the interaction space is no longer confined to the interior. For the first time, occupants will be able to interact with their direct surroundings, such as buildings or parking spaces. Even complex queries can be answered quickly and easily by pointing a finger and issuing a voice command. “What’s this building? How long is that business open? What is this restaurant called? Can I park here and what does it cost?”

“Customers should be able to communicate with their intelligent connected vehicle in a totally natural way,” explains Christoph Grote, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Electronics.

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Source and photo credits: BMW