Gesture recognition to dominate auto controls

Market for gesture recognition systems expected to grow to over $13B

Published: March 26, 2017, 1:30 PM
Updated: March 30, 2017, 4:27 AM

Gesture controls - For a start, it’s the only car that allows you to change the volume of the audio system by just pointing at it. A camera beneath the rear-view mirror watches the pre-programmed gestures of your hand near the screen and reacts to them.

As auto manufacturers look for systems that will enable drivers to control onboard systems safely, the demand for gesture controls looks set to explode, according to a new report published by RnR Market Research.

The market for gesture recognition systems (GRS) is currently pegged at a value of $829.5 million US (2016, latest figures), but is expected to top $3.14 billion by 2021, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 30.5%. It is expected that some 15.1 million vehicles will use the technology over the next five years.

CES 2015 - BMW, long the holdout for its push-twist-nudge iDrive knob will not only make its display screens and software responsive to touch, but also be able to recognize gestures done a fair distance away from the dash as well.

The reason for the demand is 2-fold — more car owners want the latest technology in their devices, including vehicles; and, more drivers are aware of regulations concerning the safe operation of devices while driving, and wish to adopt whatever means they can for their and their passengers’ safety.

The biggest current market for the technology is Europe, with North America close behind. Asia Pacific (APAC) is a far third and the rest of the world is grouped together trailing the pack even farther back. The reason for the demographic background is socio-economic — car owners in the European and North American regions are wealthier, and their higher disposable incomes mean they can indulge in more premium and comfort features in their vehicles.

However, the fastest growth is seen in the Asia-Pacific region, and China in particular, mainly because of increased automotive production in that country (as well as in India) resulting in more purchases and increasing numbers of suppliers.

The biggest segment in GRS continues to be hand/fingerprint authentication, and touch controls are still more in demand than the concepts’ air-gesture controls and expected to continue its dominance over the next five years. The reason for that is that more and more people are becoming increasingly familiar with the touch/swipe controls on their mobile devices, and it’s a natural extension to have them in their instrument panels (where the displays already mimic the touchscreens on their mobile phones thanks to link such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay).

Hand gesture control in Mercedes-Benz F015

Although the touchless gesture controls are on many owners’ desirability lists, their acceptance is expected to be slow because of high costs and hesitance over their accuracy in doing what the driver wants to do without requiring added concentration.

The report was compiled following direct interviews with executives and management at various auto companies and Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. The companies were from Europe (50% of interviewees), APAC (25%), Middle East (13%) and the Americas (12%).