BMW showcases next-gen iDrive infotainment on its 20th year anniversary

Simran Rastogi Updated: January 13, 2021, 11:38 AM IST

A full 20 years after BMW debuted its iDrive display and operating system in the 2001 BMW 7 Series, the manufacturer has showcased its next-gen iDrive at the all-digital CES 2021, as fitted to the upcoming iX electric SUV flagship, and iX5. The new-gen infotainment system, while holding ties to its legacy in its overall tiled layout and touch-sensitive controller similar to the latest iDrive 7.0 in current production BMWs, moves to a continuous display mounted on the dash, made of two individual screens, with its highlight being an AI-powered Intelligent Personal Assistant. 

This marks the first time BMW has used a display of this type, gently curved towards the driver to further the driver-oriented cockpit that's been a trademark of BMWs since even before iDrive. The future of iDrive also looks like it'll eschew physical controls for functions like the climate control, in favour of on-screen buttons, supported by things like haptic feedback, gesture controls and, of course, voice commands apart from even tracking eye movements and view for presenting relevant controls. The new iDrive also has plenty of what BMW calls 'shy tech', or technology that remains hidden when not in use, with capacitive buttons that disappear into the surface until the system senses a user reaching for them.

The new iDrive is also said to further 'humanise' the connection between the driver/passenger and the vehicle itself, with the Intelligent Personal Assistant that's been given a character of its own - smart, intellectual and capable of delivering clever solutions, and natural conversation for a seemingly curated driver experience. 

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