Johnson Controls talks about in-car HMI

The purpose of user interfaces is to make driving safer. New approaches to designing the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) open up the possibility that devices will in future be able to learn from users’ behaviour patterns.

Excerpts from the interview by with a Johnson Controls executive:

The focus is on technology, ergonomics and usability requirements, costs, and the customer’s design specifications and user interface concepts. As far as I am concerned, human aspects, such as intelligibility, usability and ergonomics, take centre stage.

There are basic human requirements that an HMI must meet to allow it to be used throughout the world and then, on top of that, there are cultural differences. In Asian countries, people relate innovation, technology and progress to what seem to us to be very overcrowded HMIs and some of them become experts in using the entire interface. In Western culture, everyone – including non-experts – wants to be able to control the system themselves.

Statistics that identify the areas accessible to small women, large men and people with long or short torsos are available. In the past, the assumption was that HMIs for young drivers and older drivers should be designed differently. Now we know that a good, consistent HMI is not age-related.

Our aim is to create as little visual distraction as possible. Clearly legible and identifiable displays, together with dynamic effects designed to suit the driving context, help us to achieve this objective. One important development involves multimodal user interfaces that make use of all the human senses. Some system messages can be presented in tactile or audible form, such as a vibrating steering wheel or seat. Several approaches are being investigated, but we are currently only at the beginning of an interesting phase of development.

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