Jaguar Land Rover says it has developed a new “contactless” touchscreen system designed to keep eyes on the road and reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Developed with help from the University of Cambridge, the patented technology is better described as “predictive touch”. According to the British firm, it uses “artificial intelligence and sensors” to predict a user’s intended target on the touchscreen without them actually touching the display.

Jaguar Land Rover says laboratory tests and on-road trials have indicted predictive touch technology could reduce a driver’s touchscreen interaction effort and time by up to 50 percent, while also limiting the spread of bacteria and viruses.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to determine the item the user intends to select on the screen “early in the pointing task”, thus potentially speeding up the interaction. A “gesture tracker” uses vision-based or radio frequency-based sensors to combine “contextual information such as user profile, interface design and environmental conditions” with data available from other sensors, such as an “eye-gaze tracker”, to infer the user’s intent in real time.

“As countries around the world exit lockdown, we notice how many everyday consumer transactions are conducted using touchscreens: railway or cinema tickets, ATMs, airport check-ins and supermarket self-service checkouts, as well as many industrial and manufacturing applications,” said Lee Skrypchuk, human machine interface technical specialist at Jaguar Land Rover.

“Predictive touch technology eliminates the need to touch an interactive display and could therefore reduce the risk of spreading bacteria or viruses on surfaces. The technology also offers us the chance to make vehicles safer by reducing the cognitive load on drivers and increasing the amount of time they can spend focused on the road ahead,” Skrypchuk added.