With automotive gadgety getting ever more advanced, the humble key fob has been left behind — until now. Because BMW's i8 plug-in-hybrid sports car now comes with touchscreen fob that lets you do far more than just lock and unlock your car.
An angular construction of aluminium and glass, it house a 2.2-inch LCD screen that primarily displays information about how far you can drive, such as fuel level and electric battery range. But it also allows you to swipe using the same gestures as on your smartphone, to access a range of submenus, to see if doors and windows are locked, say, or check if you need a service.
All in, it provides a similar service to BMW's i Remote app — but in this case, it receives the data using the same radio signal that's used to lock and unlock the car. Whenever you're in range of the vehicle, the fob updates. In terms of power, it simply charges while it's nestled in a special charging tray on the dash — or via micro USB if you forget to do that. Either way, it will last up to three months without a charge, anyway. The new fob will be available as an option for the BMW i8 from autumn 2015.
Elsewhere, BMW has announced a new "Touch Command" system that will allow passenger in the rear of its cars to use an Android tablet to take some control over the vehicle. But don't worry: we're talking climate control and entertainment, nothing more. Powered by a Samsung tablet, the device is tweaked so that the Home button actually takes you to the BMW app (but you can use it as a normal tablet too.)
Oh, and BMW has also mentioned that a revamped version of its iDrive system will soon support gesture control. Using a camera mounted in the car's roof, it will look for gestures — circular motions, two finger pokes, whatever — as cues to control car systems. Careful with your in-car dancing! [BMW Blog]