Will Covid-19 kill doorknobs and touch screens?

Door handles, of all things, are threatened with extinction due to the pandemic, according to Renault Group’s avant-garde design manager Laurens van den Acker.

Always on the lookout for global trends, even for some time before the pandemic, van den Acker had noted a growing awareness among buyers about levels of hygiene inside their cars.

“I hate to say it, but other than your toilet, a cell phone is probably the most unsanitary thing you own – and your car’s door handles, touchscreen, etc. won’t be far behind,” he said. he declared.

Before the pandemic, this led to a growing number of cars having improved air filtration and ionizer systems. Premium brands in particular had started to offer air quality measurements, especially on electric vehicles.

But now van den Acker believes the trend will grow – to the point that doors will open and close automatically, either by sensing you (or more likely your keychain) when you approach or reacting when you walk away. sit down or step on the brake pedal, as already a pioneer on the new Mercedes-Benz EQS electric limousine.

He also expects there to be a shift in focus in materials, with self-cleaning surfaces and anti-bacterial materials set to take off. Don’t worry, though, they’re probably more sophisticated than the interior plastics and vinyls that covered many surfaces of 1970s cars.

In the longer term, van den Acker believes that touchscreens will also come under scrutiny. Although Chinese is one of the most complex languages ​​to learn, not least because of its multitude of dialects, he says the development of speech recognition technology in the country is already beating the world. As soon as it’s foolproof, there won’t be a need for a screen to display anything other than satellite navigation instructions – in theory, at least.

Stretching that scenario further, he also foresees a time when facial recognition could play a role, again removing any need for physical touching of surfaces. Once again, he expects Chinese technologists to lead the way in developing the capacity.

Of course, there is no certainty that Chinese tastes will reach European shores, but don’t rule it out. Over time, electronic solutions are often cheaper and more reliable than mechanical solutions, and the economic attractiveness of building similar technology on as many models as possible could make it difficult for automakers to resist.

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