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July 24, 2020

Jaguar Land Rover develops contactless touchscreen to help fight bacteria and viruses

New contactless touchscreen technology developed by Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Cambridge will, the pair claimed, help keep drivers' eyes on the road and reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses in a post COVID-19 world.

By Olly Wehring

New contactless touchscreen technology developed by Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Cambridge will, the pair claimed, help keep drivers’ eyes on the road and reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses in a post COVID-19 world.

The patented technology, known as ‘predictive touch’, uses artificial intelligence and sensors to predict a user’s intended target on the touchscreen without actually touching a button.

The pioneering system, developed with engineers at the University of Cambridge, is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero vision – a desire to make its vehicles safer and the environment cleaner and healthier.

“We know certain pathogens can be transmitted via surfaces, so this technology could help reduce the risk for that type of transmission,” said professor Simon Godsill of Cambridge University’s department of engineering.

In the ‘new normal’, once lockdowns around the world are lifted, a greater emphasis will be placed on safe, clean mobility where personal space and hygiene will carry premiums, the automaker said.

JLR vehicles include a Driver Condition Monitor, engine noise cancellation and cabin air ionisation with PM2.5 filtration to capture ultrafine particles and allergens.

Lab tests and on road trials showed the predictive touch technology could reduce a driver’s touchscreen interaction effort and time by up to 50%, as well as limiting the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Uneven or poor road surfaces can often cause vibrations that make it difficult to select the correct button on a touchscreen. This means drivers must take their attention away from the road, increasing the risk of an accident.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to determine the item the user intends to select on the screen early in the pointing task, speeding up the interaction.

A gesture tracker uses vision based or radio frequency based sensors, which are increasingly common in consumer electronics, to combine contextual information such as user profile, interface design and environmental conditions with data available from other sensors, such as an eye gaze tracker, to infer the user’s intent in real time.

Predictive touch technology eliminates the need to touch an interactive display and could therefore reduce the risk of spreading bacteria or viruses on surfaces.

The technology also offers automakers the chance to make vehicles safer by reducing the cognitive load on drivers and increasing the amount of time they focused on the road ahead.

This software based product for contactless interactions has reached high technology readiness levels and can be seamlessly integrated into existing touchscreens and interactive displays, so long as the correct sensory data is available to support the machine learning algorithm.

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