THREE TRENDS in Automotive HMI
Humane, Liquid HMIs and Augmented Reality
2021년 11월호 지면기사  / written by Sang Min

interview with Dr. Peter Rössger, beyond HMI/////        

HMI is a major competition part of car makers and is becoming more important with the CASE trend. Our lifestyle is changing significantly with cutting-edge home appliances and technologies, and cars are always connected to the outside and moving toward Level 4 autonomous driving. These require new communication methods between drivers, passengers and cars. AEM talked with Dr. Peter Rössger of beyond HMI//// about automotive HMI and UX.

written by Sang Min
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Q. In a way, HMI and UX have been very emphasized in recent car cockpit, but I think the aspects of "force on high-tech" "marketing" and "visible design" are more emphasized than the true user experience. Do you think current automotive technology is communicating well with people?

A. Technology needs to have a value, it needs to make the lives of humans better. "Better" may mean safer, faster, easier, or even just funnier. In many aspects of technology, in many areas, and applications we have reached the "edge of value". Does it really make your life better, when your car has 210 HP instead of 180 HP? What is the value of a display with an even higher resolution? Will you be a better driver, parent, human just because your in-vehicle infotainment has 3 more never-used features? I just don't believe all of this. True user experience is created by well defined solutions meeting the needs, the abilities, and the wishes of users. It feels like technology is communicating well when everything is working fine. For automotive technologies this is true in most cases. If we merge consumer technologies into cars we face issues on all levels: technological, in user experience, and in value.

Q. It's your job to find the balance of all this and develop the most successful HMI, right? Introduce yourself briefly to Automotive Electronic Magazine readers.

A. My name is Dr. Peter Rössger. I'm runnig a business called beyond HMI/////. I bring my clients to new levels of awareness, thinking, decision making and execution by putting the human into the focus of technology development. Besides my consulting activities I am a keynote speaker and author in the area of human technology relationship. Before starting my own business I was 4 years with an electronic service company, 12 years with Harman Automotive (now part of Samsung), and 4 years with Daimler. I have a Dr.-Ing. degree in Human Factors Engineering from the Technical University of Berlin (Germany).

Q. If you have any projects(which can be disclosed) you have done, please introduce it.

A. I have NDAs with most of my clients, so I'm not allowed to talk about them. One I can mention is the Swiss car maker Rinspeed. I was involved in all the show cars they presented in the last 6 or 7 years. Other clients are automakers, automotive suppliers, and service companies. Focus of most of my projects is to make my clients future save. One example: a Chinese OEM asked me: "what will be the future user experiences in cars and which technologies do we need to put onto our roadmap?" Based on my analyses I suggest concrete steps, products, and processes to create the right solutions using a strong user focus.

Dr. Rössger has participated in all the showcases presented by Rinspeed over the past six to seven years. His project focus is on allowing customers to prepare for future HMI. The photo is Rinspeed's Oasis (2017)

Q. The theme of the January issue of Automotive Electronic Magazine is minimalism. Interior design, HMI and UX, is this a definite trend with C.A.S.E.? Tell me your opinion on "minimalism" including exterior and even ownership.

A. Minimalism is an excellent way to focus on what is really important. If you leave all the clutter away you get to the best solution from a usability and user experience standpoint. I see the C.A.S.E. mantra independent from minimalism, although both are connected. For data connections and data driven services a focus on the essential shall be set. The usefulness of connectivity needs to be communicated to the user. The same accounts for shared mobility: if you drill the service and its representation down to the core, moving people from A to B, usability and user experience will raise. Minimalistic design in any aspect helps to focus users and experiences.

Q. Acceptance of cars for external technologies such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung is also an important part in terms of minimalism, UX, and industry hegemony. How do you think this issue with UX?

A. I used a car with Android Auto for two weeks this summer. The experience was awful. Basically it's a great idea to re-use experiences known from the smartphone world in a car. Interaction patterns well known are replicated in the vehicle. The technological realization was poor, though. The most annoying thing is that the in-vehicle head unit takes over most parts of the smartphone. Even if I disconnected the WiFi connection between phone and car, the technology re-started itself within a second. Plus that the voice recognition had a recognition rate of under 50%. I made an extra episode of my podcast (The Human-Techology Podcast) on my experiences. These technologies have a serious potential, but they need to mature to provide real positive user experiences.

Q. Tell us your "imagination" of 2030 cars and HMI. Tell me the technical HMI roadmap you are predicting.

A. I see three trends in automotive HMIs

1. Humane HMIs: human to human communication is still the benchmark for human to technology communication. This means we shall target for complete HMIs using all senses. This includes voice, gesture, facial expression, posture, and tone of voice in addition to the exisiting visual-haptic interaction. A certain amount of (artificial) intelligence needs to be added to allow flexibility and personalization.

2. Liquid HMIs: until today an HMI, an interaction opportunity, is always connected to a location. I steer my in-vehicle infotainment from the touch screen mounted on the center stack. I open the car with the door lock or the remote key. We see a trend, that  HMI will leak into other locations. I can steer certain functions of my car from the smartphone or the PC, I will be able to control my smart home from the vehicle screen, etc. With loosing the locations we also loose the context of interaction, the interaction device, and the knowledge on use cases. The HMI leaks into different location and we will need to make it flexible accordingly.

3. Augmented Reality: we will see more and more overlays between the real, the analog world and digital data. This may happen with head up display, glasses or projection technology. Digital information is not visible by nature. But with augmented reality we will make the invisible visible and create value out of digital data.

Dr. Rössger mentioned Humane HMIs, Liquid HMIs and Augmented Reality as three trends in automotive HMI.

Q. We are currently at the starting point of autonomous driving level 3. 
What should we pay attention to in terms of current HMI, sensing, control technology and regulation?

A. Level 3 is the bottleneck of automated driving. If we do not find a way to handle this issue automated driving may be dead. On level 3 we allow the drive to pull out of the control loop. The driver needs to be back "in a short timeframe", which is usually interpreted as 3 to 5 seconds. He or she can read a book, check the mail, watch a movie, play a game, or shop in the Internet. Different studies show, that building a complete situational awareness takes 20 to 120 seconds, which is far longer than the 3 to 5 seconds it should take. HMI solutions shall support the driver in building the situational awareness. Technologies like driver surveillance and driver fatigue measurement will support this effort. Regulation may limit level 3 down to level 2, which will solve some parts of the problem, but that is not what we want!

Q. Is the head-up display important in now and future?

A. Head up displays have certain advantages: you can project information close to the line of sight. The eye-movements of the driver can be smaller when switching from the road scenery to the displayed information. On the other hand agian: I have not yet seen a concept that really convinces me, that has a real advantage compared to traditional in-vehicle displays. The story gets different when we can use full wind-screen head up diplay. The augmeneted reality scenarios become possible, we can overlay information and add real value to the driving experience.

Q. Tesla had a significant impact on the cockpit of traditional automakers. What do you think of Tesla? Someone says Tesla is forcing customers to follow their UX and HMI with Self-driving philosophy(not ADAS)

A. Tesla is kicking the other, the established OEMs. This is a great thing, since the entire automotive industry became a bit slow and innovation resistant over the years. On the other hand I see Tesla totally overrated. They build cars that are ok, but they are not the solutions for all problems we have. Tesla over-communicated the abilities of their cars, which lead to mis-use of single functions. The HMI they use, particularly the minimized HMI in the Model 3, has a certain charm, but I find it too reduced, the location of information is sub-optimal and the screen is totally overloaded. Important information like speed is not clearly and easy visible. Tesla started some great and exciting innovation, but clearly lacks maturity.

Q. One of the core products of OEM and large tier 1 these days is the pillar to pillar display. Please tell me what you think about these things. Sometimes It seems reasonable to say, "Give the passenger a laptop!" What do you think needs to be supplemented?

A. When I started my career in automotive HMI development 20 years ago the main problem was: how do I display all the required information on a screen? We had 5" or 7" screens in center stacks and needed to prioritize information and condense it to show the relevant things. With the huge displays we see in some cars, today we have the opposite problem: I have so much space, what shall I show on the screen real estate? I have not yet seen a real good, covincing HMI concept for these pillar to pillar displays. Let me know when you have one!

Dr. Rössger said the minimized HMI of Model 3 has a specific charm but is not mature, and has not yet seen a convincing HMI concept on the pillar to pillar display.

Q. Many small and med-sized auto parts makers are entering the HMI field as they seek to switch to E/E parts makers. They are eager to develop a new touch interface, saying that no matter how advanced voice technology and gestures are, touch technology will not disappear from the car. What advice would you give for their successful business and digital transformation?

A. I can support these activities. We will have haptic components on most dashboards for the next 20 to 25 years. Using dedicated devices (mechanical or electronic) will make car-driver interactions easier. A limited number of well-selected functions shall remain on dedicated devices. Make these devices flexible, allow personalization, and find an adaptable haptic experience.

Q. What is the current and future car killer app related to HMI? What is the sexy?

A. We have sexy technology when we meet the abilities, wishes and dreams of users. Technology needs to work smoothly under any circumstance. The one killer app for any HMI or meeting and beating the expectations of users. Technology can be wonderful, let's make it fun to use. Never give up on this way. It's possible!

AEM_Automotive Electronics Magazine

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