A touch-sensitive steering wheel is being created by researchers that allows drivers to call up information on a head-up display on the windscreen, just off the driver's line of sight.
"We're looking at very simple touch interactions that don't require a visual focus," the New Scientists quoted Victoria Fang, who built the steering wheel together with Lucas Ainsworth at Intel labs in Hillsboro, Oregon, as saying.
The touchpad steering wheel is designed to finish off the excessive switches and buttons that are currently there in car steering columns, controlling everything from the radio to the GPS navigation system.
For it, the researchers used a 3D printer to create a secure housing for a sheet of touch-sensitive material that they then embedded in one of the broad spokes of a steering wheel.
Tests involving volunteers showed that users are most comfortable operating the touchpad using the thumb of their right hand.
Quick taps on the pad accept actions recommended by the display like "dim headlights" or "view accident location on satnav", while a swipe towards the left dismisses a suggestion.
Swiping up or down scrolls through a menu of actions.
The researchers are also experimenting with subtle audio prompts when new items pop up on the display.
"We are continually engaged with car equipment-makers to collaboratively explore these concepts," Fang added.