Mercedes-Benz invents the levitating "crystal ball"

November 14, 2021


Mercedes-Benz is introducing tech like the 56-inch Hyperscreen to the all-electric EQS Sedan. But the German carmaker is taking infotainment a step further with a revolutionary way of controlling your infotainment. Forget touchscreens and voice control, you can now control your infotainment via a floating crystal ball.

After the introduction of the 56-inch Hyperscreen in the cockpit of the EQS electric sedan, Mercedes is focusing heavily on the technological innovation of its cars.

A possible direction of how the infotainment systems of future Mercedes could be revolutionized is suggested by a new patent filed by the House of the Star which foresees being able to control the functions of the infotainment, not through a touch display or voice commands, but through a floating crystal ball. 



Mercedes-Benz describes an invention relating "to a control device for controlling vehicles functions… which can be actively actuated by a person for control." The patent further goes on to suggest that the control "is designed as an object which floats in a regulated magnetic field."

Accompanied by several diagrams, we see a spherical control floating above the center console. Using magnetic field technology, the ball can hover and spin freely, and a sensor unit would be able to detect - we presume via light, movement, proximity, and gyro sensors - the actuation and input of the controller.

A floating ball controller could be scrolled in numerous directions and could be pushed around like a joystick while depressing the controller could act as a function to click on or select a menu item.



Crystal ball floating above the center console


From what emerges from the documentation relating to the patent of the new technology filed with the World Intellectual Property Office, Mercedes speaks of "a control device for managing vehicle functions", suggesting that the particular controller "is designed as an object that floats in a regulated magnetic field ". 

The sphere that floats above the central console, using magnetic field technology, hovers and rotates freely to respond to different inputs, not only deriving from human touch, but also "autonomous" thanks to different sensors of light, movement, proximity and gyroscope. 


Ball with rotatable and clickable permanent magnet 


The movable sphere acts as a controller capable of sliding in numerous directions and can be pushed like a joypad, while pressing the controller is used for example to select an item from the menu, as if it were the click of a mouse. The patent shows the presence of a permanent magnet integrated inside the sphere-controller. 

We know that often daring and revolutionary solutions from the design point of view, as in this case, must then deal with accessibility and ease of use. We will see if in the future Mercedes will be able to develop this innovative “suspended” controller to the point of being able to implement it on its production cars.