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Alison C.
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HMI: The Key Brand Differentiator

This article which was written in association with the Telematics Detroit 2012 Conference and Exhibition examines the next general of global automotive human machine interfaces.

Industry leaders from Ford, Mercedes-Benz, QNX, Delphi, Elektrobit and Toyota, amongst others will give detailed insight into developing flexible HMI solutions that are customizable to the local demands developing global markets.

Enter your details on the right for the conference brochure with more information on developing next-gen infotainment platforms >>>

Customizing global HMIs for local markets

Recent developments in hardware and software have given telematics companies the ability to standardize across the globe while customizing for individual markets. Some of the most exciting developments have been seen in the field of web-based personalization, digital HMIs, and in-car infotainment processing.

The portal approach

Continental's first implementation of its AutoLinq concept was with Shanghai General Motors, a joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

Brian Droessler, of Continental Automotive Systems, says that acting as a tier 1 in this case, relying on existing partners while forging new partnerships, allowed the company to create a product tailored to the Chinese consumer at a cost of approximately $200 to the OEM.

Key to the kind of personalization Continental wants to provide was the creation of a portal that lets drivers set up what features and data they want to receive in the car. This approach reduces the complexity of the car's HMI.

"Web portal personalization eliminates the need for a lot of menus in the car and tailors information to what you want,” Droessler says. " You just do it once. A simple user interface is a key point for us, bringing data to the car in a meaningful and safe way."

Enter your details on the right for the conference brochure with more information on developing next-gen HMIs >>>

The digital display

Many automakers already are previewing digital HMIs, which, of course, allow for almost complete flexibility in the display. McCloskey sees the entire instrument cluster going digital by 2015. At that time, he sees personalization taking place on a Web portal and linked to an individual's smartphone as an identifier.

First, the driver will go through a registration process via a Web portal, providing the smartphone number as well as information such as insurance carrier, favorite navigation or other apps, what regions the car travels in. This could also extend to personalization of the look and feel of the display.

"When an individual gets into a car, regardless of where they are, because of the phone number, the vehicle recognizes you and your language," he explains. "You have a service profile of x, and no matter where you are, it loads that into the vehicle."

Enter your details on the right for the conference brochure with more information on developing next-gen infotainment platforms >>>

Processing power

The more customization for local markets, the bigger the drain can be on the in-car systems. Nvidia recently announced that Audi will use its Tegra3 mobile processor to power in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital instrument clusters across its full line of vehicles beginning in 2013.

Both will use Nvidia's Visual Computing Modules, computer subsystems equipped with processors, memory and IO controllers, designed specifically for automotive applications.

"They are essentially computers within the car that enable automakers to develop their own look and feel, but also customize as they see fit," says Danny Shapiro, director, automotive division for Nvidia.

Drivers themselves could even make design decisions, perhaps personalizing the ‘skin’ of the display in the same way they do for some computer desktop applications. Or, the automaker could offer a selection of design themes. "It could be a lot of fun and a good way for car companies to differentiate and attract a younger demographic," Shapiro says.


Lead the infotainment race in 2012
Industry though leaders including leaders including Ford, Toyota, Airbiquity and QNX will explore explore the future of the automotive HMI at Telematics Detroit 2012 (June 6-7, Detroit, MI, USA).

They will discuss:

Assess the potential of new UI development tools such as HTML5 for enriching the intuitive user experience
Assess the impact of ‘Siri’ and similar concierge offerings and devise a strategy to master this technically challenging but crucial UI aspect
Evaluate the NHTSA’s concern over driver cognitive load and discuss how the industry can collaborate on driver distraction
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