Lexus LF-CC

The Lexus LF-CC concept vehicle’s touch tracer display shows the future of driver controls.

10/31/2012—Identifying future trends is a big part of the fun at auto shows. So when the Lexus LF-CC concept debuted at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in September, savvy trend-spotters zeroed-in on something that was intentionally absent from the vehicle’s high-tech interior: The knobs, buttons, and switches conventionally used to control vehicle functions were nowhere in sight.

The LF-CC provides a glimpse of how drivers may interact with vehicles of the future. It combines technologies that have only recently come to market with some far out futuristic stuff. The vehicle’s dashboard is essentially segmented into two distinct zones. The upper Display Zone includes a digital instrument panel, as well as a high-resolution extra wide navigation screen. All are nicely situated for at-a-glance viewing.

But where things get interesting is in the lower Operational Zone. Gone from the center console separating the driver and passenger are the afore-mentioned knobs and switches. Instead, a smooth, touch-sensitive screen is positioned flush on the console to facilitate remote operation. In addition, a smartphone-sized touch pad has been built into the driver’s right-hand armrest.

The control screen is called the “touch tracer display,” a key element in what Lexus calls the “driver-centric sports cockpit” of the future. Vehicle functions are controlled not with toggles and dials but rather with the familiar taps and flips that have become ubiquitous in modern communication devices. Think iPad tablet—but with a distinctly Lexus flair.

Combined with the next-generation Remote Touch, the touch tracer display in the LF-CC embodies a next step in the company’s HMI (Human Machine Interface) design philosophy. It takes ergonomics and user-interface to a whole new level. Other performance enhancements include a low, highly focused driving position, a wide-grip steering wheel, and optimum pedal placement. The touch tracer display is located directly behind the shift lever for maximum comfort and ease of operation.

Lexus fans are, of course, familiar with how these engineering leaps have a way of making it into production. Witness the LFA, which went though several concept-car iterations before going into production, or the LF-Gh concept’s spindle grille, which paved the way for the now-signature Lexus front-end design. It will be interesting to see how and when Lexus’ touch tracer innovations transition to the showroom.

Setting aside the touch tracer display’s potential for ease, convenience, and outright coolness, I can tell you another thing that appeals to this detail-oriented enthusiast: replacing all those intricate knobs and switches with a flat-glass touch-screen could help make Lexus-interior detailing a snap!

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Concept vehicle shown.