LAS VEGAS -- Mercedes Benz has officially put the automotive technology world on notice with the debut of its Dynamic and Intuitive Control Experience. Called DICE for short, the system is essentially an augmented reality-based interface that allows users to control various aspects of their vehicle's infotainment system through simple hand movements.
Still in its early development stages, the system was on display at CES in a large, hollowed-out silver cube with a mockup of a futuristic Mercedes cockpit installed within it. As we slid into the driver's seat of the DICE display, the system's sensors located above and in front of us immediately began to detect our movements. On the windshield in front of us, Mercedes projected a simulated ride through the San Francisco waterfront.
To the left of the steering wheel on the flat panel dashboard was a simulated compass that we could manipulate with hand gestures, similar to Microsoft's Kinect system. To right of the steering wheel, on the passenger side dashboard, was a secondary panel with buttons label Social, Media and Places. Waving our hands in front of each of the tabs would highlight them, while pushing our hands forward allowed us to select them.
From the Social tab we could view the most recent status updates for other simulated friends that had the DICE system, while the Media tab allows users to select from the music collection. The Places tab gives users access to points of interest they have saved to the system. And while being able to manipulate items on the simulators dashboard was interesting, the really impressive stuff was up on the windshield, where the augmented reality part of the DICE system shined.
As our virtual vehicle navigated the streets of San Francisco, DICE would pick up on various landmarks and display selectable points of interest icons on the windshield. Waving our hands in front of the icons brought up information on their corresponding points of interest that we could choose to save to our dashboard's Places section.
When we drove past a club, DICE picked up the music playing inside and displayed it as an interactive icon on the windshield. From there we could choose to save the song to our dashboard's Media tab. Friends driving near us with the DICE installed would show up on our windshield as an icon with their face. Selecting their face brought up their status, which could save to the Social tab.
While the DICE system is far from being fully implemented in a production vehicle anytime soon, Mercedes representatives pointed out that the company is testing a similar motion control system in their test vehicles. We just hope the day that this type of Minority Report-style user interface is integrated into consumer cars comes sooner rather than later.