As the outside of our vehicles get more advanced, the inside is advancing at a far quicker pace. And while having the word "resistive" in any type of touchscreen implementation may not seem all that advanced to anyone, Shoei has created a hybrid touch panel that actually uses resistive technology in a useful fashion. Of course, it helps that the company doesn't have any intention of implementing their idea in an actual display.
The company is currently showing off their optical/resistive touch panel at the third annual International Automotive Electronics Technology Expo, that began on January 19th and runs until the 21st. It's taking place in Tokyo, and it's where many companies go to show off their next best gadgets or design, all in the hopes of getting it installed in the next popular vehicle.
For Shoei, their idea is to combine both a resistive technology with an optical touch panel, and instead of focus on a touchscreen display like we've seen in so many vehicles lately, make it an independent operation terminal for usage in connection with the display we've come to expect in vehicles. The company would hope that the touch panel would be installed somewhere near the driver, so that they could control the LCD display in the dashboard without having to lean over and interact with it.
The company demonstrated it on the floor. From the sounds of it, you would interact with the operation terminal much like that of a laptop's touchpad and mouse buttons. Simply pressing the touch panel down allows for the user to navigate a cursor on the LCD monitor in the dashboard, and allows for quick inputs without having to worry about getting distracted while leaning over to interact with the dashboard unit. The unit on display was created from combining a camera, and retroreflective tape. The two features are a necessity to make the device function properly.
As for a release date, Shoei believes they can create a truly functioning prototype of their idea some time in 2011. Their goal is to have it commercialized in some capacity by the year 2012.