When it comes to car interfaces and interiors, demos from companies such as ALPS often offer a peek into the near future, because the company is a huge component supplier to the automotive industry.
At CEATEC 2018, the company is showing its Premium Capacitive Input and Control, a set of components that can be integrated into innocuous places such as the doors soft (fabric, leather) or hard surfaces (wood) while staying low key, if not completely invisible.
The demo also included wireless, laser-based, sensors that allow for waving gestures to do things like open or close the windows. If you don’t want to open/close a window completely, a gentle touch on the door surface sensor will stop the rolling motion immediately.
Also featured were touch sensors with embedded light feedback that act like a “knob,” except with a more stylized interface and visuals (above image). Depending on the integration, the automaker could even make the light elements as low key as possible, becoming visible only when in use, and disappearing after a short time.
These components have just been made available, and ALPS cannot yet talk about customers. This is common for component makers, where their customers will include a non-disclosure agreement in the purchase contract. Hopefully, there will be a joint announcement with at least one of the car-makers in the future.
ALPS also makes in-wheel sensors that are compliant with the R79 standard which is now required for Lane Keeping Assist Systems (LKAS). R79 is the latest standard to detect if the driver has his/her hands on the wheel (or not), which is a critical thing that any assisted-driving need to be aware of. If you are curious, read this R79 IEE paper (PDF Link)
Keep an eye out for the introduction of such interfaces in a production vehicle as the technology trickles form research, to technical demonstrations and finally into the market.