10352462354_f669923207_zHuman machine interfaces (HMI) are found virtually everywhere. From production factories and engineering plants to residential homes and consumer vehicles, they are used to enhance usability. Now, one of the world’s largest automakers has announced plans to develop variable HMI concepts for use in its cars.

When speaking at the annual carIT Congress in Frankfurt Germany, Volkswagen’s lead electrical development engineer said future cars need driver-situation dependent  concepts. “Future cars will need such driver-situation dependent concepts“” said Volkmar Tanneberger. The VW team leader went on to say that HMI is a strong point for the automaker’s brand, and that “user experience is central to our ability to inspire people.”

We know that VW is hoping to capitalize on the ever-growing trend of HMI, but how exactly does it plan to implement HMI into its vehicles? Everything is pure speculation at this point, but some sources are claiming that it will introduce gesture controls. Gesture controls have long been used in smartphones and tablets, allowing mobile users to perform various commands like unlock, lock, snap a photo, open email, etc. simply by making hand gestures in front of the camera. VW could implement a similar gesture control feature in its automobiles. Imagine changing the radio station or turning up the air conditioner by moving your hands instead of actually touching the dash controls. Sounds pretty cool, high?

Of course, there are some hurdles to implementing gesture controls is automobiles. As noted by Tanneberger, there needs to be some type of standard used by automakers. If gesture controls are different between the different automakers, it could lead to confusion among drivers. This means automakers must coordinate with one another to create a universal standard that dictates how the gesture controls will work. If swiping your hand left turns on the radio in a VW, it should do the same for a BMW.

Touchscreen panels are another form of HMI that we’ll likely see more of in the years to come. Nearly all of the major automakers already offer touchscreen interfaces, but it’s now becoming an almost standard feature in modern-day cars and trucks.