HMI: Building a smart car, the smart way

HMI: Building a smart car, the smart way

Cars today have become increasingly connected. They are offices, hangout places, virtual homes, media centres, entertainment platforms and navigation hubs for its users.

With the rise in the number of in-car engagement platforms from handsfree phone systems to satellite navigation, there is a rising risk of accidents due to driver distraction. To effectively deal with such scenarios, the automotive user interfaces are increasingly integrating extremely complex multi-modal interfaces (Human Machine Interface-HMI). Multi-Modal HMIs aim to provide more intuitive and natural ways for people to operate and control a computer or a machine. Tata Elxsi Vice-President (Transportation Business Unit) Anil Sondur tells Deccan Herald’s Umesh M Avvannavar and Hrithik Kiran Bagade how multi-modal HMI works, its scope and the company’s way forward. 

 
Can you give an overview on multi-modal HMI?

HMI allows users to use different modalities, while interacting with car devices like Infotainment Head Unit or Clusters. Keyboard inputs and mouse clicks were the traditional modalities of HMI, but over the last five years, advanced input modalities such as speech, gaze, touch and gesture have gained importance and thus the term, new multi-modal HMI, has been coined.

What are the benefits of HMI?

Multi-modal HMI has been largely adopted in the automotive industry towards enhancing the safety and infotainment features of a vehicle. Multi-modal HMI helps in reducing driver distraction, thus aids in creating an accident-free vehicle.
Some of the key benefits of HMI are:

• Rich UI experience inside the vehicle differentiates a car manufacturer from the competition
• Safe operations of features like navigation, phone, multimedia by enabling a user-friendly HMI
• Creating branded applications hosted on the smartphone application store

What growth do you predict for the HMI market? What part will multi-modal HMI play?

The global HMI market has seen significant growth in the past few years, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.4 per cent from 2013-2019. Multi-modal HMI is still at a nascent stage, but will pick up very soon.

How do multi-modal HMIs, in particular, minimise driver distraction?

The automotive industry is largely harnessing the goodness of multi-modal HMI to reduce driver distractions. The thought behind the optimum usage of multi-modal HMI is to prioritise information and reduce driver workload.

Integration of varied comfort and safety user interfaces into a single system helps reduced driver distraction. OEMs are actively configuring a solution for creating a uniform style of HMI solutions across their product lines to minimise driver distraction.
 
Why would multi-modal HMI drive the future of automotive industry?

‘Driverless car’ is the next big thing in the automotive industry. Multi-modal HMI will be performing an extremely crucial role in turning the concept of driverless car into a reality.

According to a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, ‘Strategic Analysis of European and North American Automotive Human Machine Interface Market’, 16 million cars will be equipped with basic voice interface, 6.9 million with advanced voice interface, and 1.2 million with multifunctional knobs in Europe by 2017.

Meanwhile in North America, 13.6 million cars will have basic voice, 6.8 million advanced voice, and 0.9 million will be equipped with multifunctional knobs by 2017.  
The Indian market is now witnessing advanced infotainment systems taking the traditional radio system to the backseat. Users are clear in what they need, and now, voice and touch-based controls are becoming common. The trend is set to continue and very soon, we will see cars carrying other multi-modal HMI features on board. Therefore, there is tremendous potential for multi-modal HMI to drive the future of the automotive industry.

What are the upcoming trends in this space?

The industry has witnessed incredible developments in embedded voice technology into interconnected devices, and enabling those interconnected devices to be integrated with automotive systems. Therefore, voice is increasingly becoming a very important feature of interaction with HMI in the vehicle.

Gesture holds huge potential as an important feature in the next few years. Very soon, the display technology will be delivering 3D features as well.

What is the contribution of Tata Elxsi towards HMI?

Tata Elxsi has developed its expertise in areas like design and software implementation in HMI, for the past 10 years. We are among a few companies in the world focusing both on visual design and software implementation of HMI.

Tata Elxsi is creating an independent layer of HMI, which is generally called the abstraction layer, where the HMI will be independent from the rest of the system.

This will help OEMs independently build on the HMI and control its development, maintaining the usability and the ability to learn the HMI quickly, when adding new features. We are also looking at the next paradigm by 2030 ie. driverless cars or autonomous driving, which would require phenomenal increase in the number of ways and methods to interact with the car.
DH News Service

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