Touch screens and touch pads are gaining traction throughout the automotive marketplace. So what's the next revolutionary input technology? Beyond gesture controls, it's likely to be smart fabrics, a technology already being analyzed by BMW.

Researchers have developed a flexible, polymer-based fiber that can be woven into fabrics, creating a pad that records touches and swipes when alternating current runs through the fibers. The material can be cleaned like regular fabrics, marking a big improvement from first iterations.

While working on its ConnectedDrive driver assistance system last year, BMW used a similar concept while embedding panels in seats and the dash. The automaker is examining the technology, but there's no timeline on when it might arrive in the market.