A budding group of automakers is embracing something that's ubiquitous outside the car: the humble touchpad. Popularized by laptops since the 1990s,
the touchpad is everywhere, including in more and more cars.
We first saw Audi incorporate a touchpad with its Multi Media Interface,
thereafter dubbed MMI Touch, in November 2009, and we got a hands-on look
just six weeks later. MMI Touch augmented MMI with map scrolling and
character recognition, which helped with writing-intense functions like
navigation entries. MMI Touch debuted on the A8 (pictured above) and subsequent S8 sedans, and
Audi has since thrown it in the new A7/S7 and redesigned A6/S6.
In 2012, BMW joined the fray with iDrive Touch, and Mercedes-Benz is close
behind with the 2015 C-Class, which mounts a touchpad above the control
knob to operate the Comand multimedia system. Lexus is joining the party too;
its forthcoming RC Concept adapts a touchpad to the brand's Remote Touch
Interface. Touchpads buck the trend in multimedia systems for touch-screens or
control knobs — but seldom both. How shoppers will react? For now,
the sample size is still too small.