BMW’s magical gesture control finally makes sense as touchscreens take over cars

BMW has been equipping its cars with in-air gesture control for several years and I never paid attention to it. It seemed redundant. Why wave your hand in the air when there’s dials, buttons, and touchscreens to do the same? Until this week, that is, when took delivery of a BMW 850i loaner equipped with the tech. This is about the future.

I didn’t know the 850i used gesture control, because, frankly, I had forgotten BMW had this technology; I stumbled upon it. Just make a motion in the air to control the volume or tell the navigation to send you home. Now, in 2019, with giant touchscreens set to takeover cars, I find BMW’s gesture control smart and a great solution to a future void of buttons.

It’s limited in use right now. There are only a few commands: volume, nav, recent calls, and turning on and off the center screen. It’s easy to see additional functions added in the future. It’s sorely missing the ability to step back a screen. I want that function the most.

Here’s how it works: to control the volume, take one finger and spin it in the air above the center stack. Anywhere. The range is impressive. A person can do this next to the screen or two feet away. A person’s arm could be resting on the center armrest and lift in the air and twirl their finger. Bam, it controls the volume. Put two fingers up – not spinning, like a flat peace sign – and the screen turns on or off. Make a fist and open it twice to load the navigation or phone (user picks the function).

After using the system for several days, I never had a false positive. The volume control took about 10 minutes to master while the other gestures worked the first time.

In this car, these commands work in conjunction with physical buttons, dials, and a touchscreen. The gestures are optional. A user can turn off the function in the settings, too.

I found the in-air control a lovely addition to the buttons, though. At night, in the rain, they’re great as they do not require the driver to remove their focus from the road. Just twirl your fingers to turn down the volume.

I’m not convinced massive touchscreens are better for the driver. The lack of actual, tactile response along with burying options in menus can lead drivers to take their eyes off the road. For the automaker, using touchscreens is less expensive than developing, manufacturing, and installing physical buttons. Instead of having rows of plastic buttons and dials along with the mechanical bits behind them, automakers can use a touchscreen and program everything to be on screen. Tesla did it first, Ram, Volvo, and now Ford is following.

In-air gesture control could improve the user experience with touchscreens. When using BMW’s system, I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to find the volume — something that I have to do occasionally, even in my car. Instead, I just made a circle in the air with my right hand. Likewise, BMW’s system lets the user call up the nav and navigate to a preset destination (like work or home) by just making another gesture.

BMW debuted this system in 2015. The automotive world was different. Vehicles were

Gadgets – TechCrunch

TikTok makes education push in India

China’s TikTok today launched an education program in India as the popular short-video app looks to expand its offering and assuage local authority in one of its biggest markets. This is the first time TikTok is serving educational content in any market, a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

TkTok, owned by the world’s most valued startup Bytedance, said it’s working with a number of content creators and firms in India to populate the platform with educational videos.

These bite-sized clips cover a range of topics from school-level science and math concepts to learning new languages. The social app is also featuring videos that offer tips on health and mental awareness, and motivational talks.

The social platform, which is used by more than 200 million users in India every month, said its education program is aimed at “democratizing learning for the Indian digital community on the platform.” (TikTok had 120 million monthly active users in April this year.)

It has partnered with edtech startups Vedantu, Toppr, Made Easy, Gradeup that will produce educational content for TikTok. It is also collaborating with social enterprises Josh Talks and the Nudge Foundation to mentor 5,000 people across India. (Some of the partnerships were disclosed a few months ago.) An executive with Josh Talks said the firm has been able to reach more than 35 million users in less than two months on TikTok, far more users than it has attracted on other platforms.

Sachin Sharma, Director of Sales and Partnerships at TikTok, said the social app’s foray into education is a response to the demand it has seen from users. Educational videos are some of the most popular and engaging videos on the platform, he said at a press conference in New Delhi.

In recent months, more than 10 million educational videos have been created and shared on TikTok, where they have garnered over 48 billion views, Sharma claimed. He did not reveal the financial structure of TikTok’s deal with its creator partners.

As consumption of mobile video booms in India, thanks in part to the availability of cheap data and proliferation of low-cost Android handsets, a growing number of edtech startups have emerged in the nation to deliver their catalog online.

Eight-year-old startup Byju’s, which offers a learning app, has seen its customer base balloon in recent years. The startup, valued at over $ 5.75 billion, had about 35 million users as of three months ago.

Educational content is also more attractive to advertisers, which could help TikTok explore better monetization options in the future, analysts said.

Expansion to e-learning would also help the startup improve its brand image with local authority. The app has already run into issues in India a couple of times. Earlier this year, an Indian court banned TikTok, alleging that it was hosting and promoting pornographic and other illicit content. The ban was later lifted.


Android – TechCrunch

Google makes moving music and videos between speakers and screens easier

Google today announced a small but nifty feature for the Google Assistant and its smart home devices that makes it easier for you to take your music and videos with you as you wander about the different rooms in your home.

‘Stream transfer’ as Google prosaically calls it, allows you to simply ask the Assistant to move your music to a different speaker, or — if you have the right speaker group set up — to all speakers and TVs in your home. All you have to say is “Hey Google, move the music to the bedroom speaker,” for example. In addition to your voice, you can also use the Google Home app or the touchscreen on your Google Nest Home Hub.

This will work with any source that can play to your Chromecast-enabled speakers and displays.

It’s all pretty straightforward — to the point where I’m surprised it took so long for Google to enable a feature like this. But maybe it just needed to have enough devices in peoples’ homes to make it worthwhile. “Now that millions of users have multiple TVs, smart speakers and smart displays (some in every room!) we wanted to make it easy for people to control their media as they moved from room to room,” Google itself explains in today’s announcement.

Gadgets – TechCrunch