Volvo Concept You puts a touchscreen at your fingertips

Volvo has shown off its latest concept car, the Concept You, at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Floating seats and 21-inch wheels aside, it’s the tablet-like interface that we’re more interested in.

"Smartphones and smart pads have brought mobile infotainment into a new era. Here, we use a number of touchscreens to replace buttons and controls in order to make the driver totally connected, totally in control," explains Peter Horbury, vice president Design at Volvo Car Corporation.

Not only does the Concept You feature a heads-up display, but you get a large central touchscreen display that looks (from the images) to be about 10 inches on the diagonal. 

There is also a similar second touchscreen between the rear passenger seats, so you won’t be packing your family of five into this luxury saloon. But wait, that’s not all: you also get two more touch panels integrated into the steering controls.

The main area of interest appears to be that central screen, which Volvo claims will be in standby until you look at it, thanks to an IR sensor that will detect your eye movement. Another sensor then detects your hand movement and is sensible enough to know whether the driver or passenger is touching the display and offers up appropriate content.

"Certain functions, such as surfing the web, are only accessible from the passenger side while the car is rolling," says Horbury. Content can be moved to the heads-up display or shared with the screen in the rear of the car.

The digital Driver Information Monitor, interestingly, shows the speedo over the top of the satnav mapping which looks clean but we’re not sure if that’s practical once you hit a busy system of roundabouts.

Volvo goes on to detail that the Concept You is equipped with an Alpine sound system, based around a "FreshAir" subwoofer, which purportedly weighs 1.5kg and gives you the equivalent of a 200W performance from only 2W.

Of course, this is only a concept, but it doesn’t quite answer that question of what happens when the sun is streaming in through the back window. Will you still be able to see the on-screen button to switch to Radio 4?