Google Files Patent on Gesture Vehicle Control Technology
The patent describes using different gestures in different parts of the vehicle. Waving your hand in front of the radio, for example, would allow you to control the audio system. The obvious upshot is that once you learn the gestures, you'd be able to change the channel, cycle through presets, and crank up the volume when a killer song comes on, all without ever taking your eyes off the road.
"While a user is maneuvering a vehicle, the user may wish to perform a number of additional functions, such as navigating to a destination, changing the temperature in the vehicle, or changing the volume of music playing in the vehicle. Other functions are possible as well," Google explains. "Performing these additional functions may require the user to locate and manipulate one or more controls in the vehicle. For example, in order to change the temperature in the vehicle, the user may locate a button or knob on a dashboard of the vehicle that controls a heater[...]While the user is maneuvering the vehicle, it may be difficult for the user to locate the controls. Further, it may be difficult for the user to manipulate the controls. Additionally, it may be unsafe to include controls in some regions of the vehicle that are closest to the user."
Google's solution to the above safety concerns is to implement gesture controls for all of the described functions, and more. These would be the same gestures you're used to performing on the PC and other applications, such as swiping, pointing, tapping, grasping, and pinching.
For this to work seamlessly, there would likely need to be one or more cameras in the vehicle configured to record 3D images of the gesture. In addition, Google patent application suggests that gestures needn't be limited to hands, but could also include arms, legs, or the head, as well as those same limbs on a passenger.