Lexus introduces the new Remote Touch Interface touchpad.
03/31/14—Back in 2008, when Lexus unveiled its first-generation Remote Touch system in the Lexus RX, nobody had seen anything quite like it. Its beauty lay in the device’s human-machine-connection logic—that is, it employed the familiar movements of desktop PC use.
Lexus engineers had correctly reasoned that a sitting driver looking toward a windshield, or glancing at a navigation screen, is quite similar to a person facing a desktop computer, so why not harness the hand and finger-click movements of a mouse-like device to control the navigation, climate control, and audio systems?
Fast forward to the present, or rather the unveiling of the new Lexus RC coupe last fall, which came with the next version of Lexus’s innovative remote-touch thinking: the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) touchpad. Lexus-cockpit engineers, in their unending commitment to superb HMI (Human-Machine Interface) design, have basically evolved the system from point-and-click to tap-and-swipe dynamics.
Put into practice, the system employs functionality similar to both a laptop touchpad and a smartphone touchscreen, allowing drivers to glide their fingers over four quadrants to scroll through menus and vehicle options on the vehicle’s navigation screen, or swipe from one screen to the next. (Much research was spent on optimal placement of the touchpad, and the relationship of the navigation screen to the driver’s line-of-sight.)
Each quadrant has its own areas of control, but together the system allows the driver to manipulate a wide spectrum of vehicle features, including the navigation system, audio system, power seats, climate control, Bluetooth system, and available features like the Enform mobile app suite components, among other technologies.
And just like a tablet or smartphone, the RTI touchpad uses gestures like pinching and spreading to zoom or expand navigation-system maps (when the vehicle is parked).
Lexus designers also gave the system haptic feedback. In other words, the touchpad will gently thump and pulse as the driver navigates menus and vehicle systems, which helps the driver move through options intuitively.
In many ways, the new touchpad is the real-world expression of Lexus’s innovative exploration into automotive touch technology, which Lexus debuted in concept form in the LF-CC’s center console back in 2012 and later showcased in the LF-NX concept.
But more than that, it’s part of a larger commitment to a connective human-machine design approach, which calls for technology to be seamless and unobtrusive, and employ natural movements on the operator’s part.
In other words—premium.
Try the system yourself later this year: look for it in the RC and RC F when the models arrive in dealerships this fall.
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