A new feature, called AirTouch, builds on BMW's Gesture Control function that was unveiled at the previous CES and is available in the latest BMW 7 Series.
AirTouch uses sensors installed around the instrument panel to enable three-dimensional control — without physical contact — of key functions, including entertainment, navigation and communication, using simple gestures to activate a large panoramic display.
It is also linked to a concealed button on the steering wheel rim that can be tapped by the driver to activate a specific program or change a setting. The front passenger has a similar button on the side sill that can be used with a combination of hand gestures to activate or change settings and functions.
The system is designed to be intuitive, and offers additional control options when the vehicle is traveling in highly automated mode, BMW said.
Futuristic vehicle cockpits will be a key theme of the 2016 CES.
Car shoppers in the near future will see vehicles with larger, high-resolution displays featuring 3-D graphics, more sophisticated head-up displays, disappearing steering wheels on self-driving cars and individual monitors for vehicle occupants.
Edmunds says: BMW has come a long way from the first iDrive rotary controller.