Peter Anderson | Jul 31, 2012

If you've danced around in front of a television and seen a digital representation of your moves on-screen, chances are you've used Xbox's Kinect device.

Now, audio and technology company Harman has built a concept car using similar technology to control in-car functions.

Harman says its technology can recognise facial and hand gestures, such as nods, winks and hand-waving. The system will allow you to activate the stereo with a wink, or adjust the volume by tilting your head left or right.

Raising your hand above the gear selector will raise the temperature, while lowering your hand will have the opposite effect.

"It’s all about reducing distractions in the car," Hans Roth, director of technology at Harman said.

"These basic gestures are being tested around the globe to find the ideal system that can be used in countries around the world."

Thankfully, those of us with a penchant for hand-waving from behind the wheel have already been taken into consideration.

"You’ve got to make sure it’s culturally acceptable. In Italy for example drivers use hand gestures a lot when they drive so it needs finalising," Roth said.

Roth added that the universal hand signal for the telephone - the extended thumb and pinky - has been adopted to initiate a call to a contact name spoken by the user.

How does it all work? The system uses a dash-mounted infra-red camera that 'watches' the driver for gestures.

Harman says the system can tell the difference between intentional and incidental moves, so a vigorous "what the hell are you doing" gesture won't confuse the air-conditioning, or call your boss.

The unveiling of Harman's system follows a new Microsoft talent hunt, with a recent job advertisement describing the use of its Kinect technology for automotive uses.

Harman says the technology is at least two to three years away, with Microsoft, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all known to be competing to get their systems to market. This will be an interesting one to watch.