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The Future Of Automated Vehicle Interiors: Research Points to Change

Sections: Car Safety, Infotainment, Navigation, Telematics

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DALLAS, TX – Henry Ford, Meet Steve Jobs. Agero Connected Services and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have conducted a study they say points to an era of much-needed change for automobile infotainment and control systems in vehicle interiors.

It’s time, in the words of Steve Jobs , to create an “insanely great” automobile interior. The days of knobs, levers and switches are long over; in an era of digital tablets, smartphones and video games, conventional automobile control interfaces seem as antiquated as rumble seats and solid rubber tires.

“At Agero we’re striving to create a new cognitive model for automotive interiors that will incorporate the very best of all the various interactive methods,” said Dr. Tom Schalk , vice president of Voice Technology for Agero, a major provider of connected vehicle services. “Rather than trying to force people to regress, it’s time to ‘right-think’ the ways in which we behave inside our automobiles.”

A key aspect of rethinking the interaction between cars and people, known in design circles as the automotive Human-Machine Interface, or HMI, is to realize that not all tasks are created equally. Safe methods for quickly obtaining accurate road condition or navigation information, for example, require a significantly different mix of voice, visual and touchscreen options than, say, exploring music choices while on a long journey. Driver and passengers matter as well; a 68-year-old’s expectations about the in-vehicle environment is probably incompatible with those of a 22-year-old.

Agero’s recent research into the evolving automotive HMI has led it to some insightful conclusions. The company recently initiated a project with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) to research optimal methods for completing several “secondary” in-vehicle tasks, such as those involving infotainment systems.

Schalk emphasizes that a great deal of intensive study, as well as creative thinking and additional new technologies, will be required before we can say we’ve truly arrived at the 21st Century automotive interior. But his company is focused on finding solutions.

“Across all key measurements—driving performance, ease of use, workload demand and task execution, defined as the successful retrieval and selection of information—both the speech-only and speech-and-visual interfaces reduced distractions,” noted Schalk. “The measurements also indicate a speech-only driver interface is best for entering a destination to search for, while a combination of speech and visual cues is best for selecting a particular search result from a list.”

For more information, read the full press release here.

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