4 future HMI automotive applications
Livable Cities & Resilient Infrastructure

4 future HMI automotive applications

The driving experience is rapidly evolving and becoming more immersive. Human-machine interface or HMI is a big part of that.

The driving experience is rapidly evolving and becoming more immersive. Human-machine interface or HMI is a big part of that.

HMI in automobiles refers to the ways drivers interact with the vehicle’s onboard computer and control systems.

Earlier HMIs were based on a driver’s use of a vehicle’s dashboard, both the visual information displayed, as well as the tactile interactions via buttons and knobs. Now, most modern vehicles feature touchscreens that serve as entertainment, climate control, and navigation systems.

However, HMI automotive features are being increasingly driven by high customer expectations and technological advances. Interest is growing in in-vehicle interfaces among customers looking for safer, more convenient and personalized driving experiences.

Some future HMI technologies in mobility may sound like science fiction. But more immersive experiences are either on the horizon or already here. Here are four developments for HMI automotive applications.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) displays overlay digital information, such as navigation instructions or vehicle data, directly onto the real-world view through the windshield.

Heads-up displays (HUD) project information to a driver above a dashboard so they can see without looking down. Information is typically projected onto the windshield.

HUDs have been available in vehicles for some time.

However, they are becoming increasingly dynamic. Examples include translucent displays that seem to float in front of the windshield. Also, HUDs are becoming adjustable in height, size, brightness, and color with customizable information displayed.

The information ranges from speed, navigation, and lane position markers, to warnings and live videos.

Mercedes-Benz, for instance, includes HUDs in several of its new sedans that show floating arrows or makers for lane positioning that appear on the windshield for navigational instruction.

Eye tracking

Eye tracking technology in vehicles has been most notably applied to track eye behaviors and blink frequency in order to sense if a driver has fallen asleep or averted their gaze. It then alerts a drowsy driver with beeps or other attention-grabbing methods.

But eye tracking technology could be used to determine where drivers are looking and adjust the displays accordingly, reducing the need for manual inputs and keeping the driver’s attention on the road.

These systems may be further integrated into safety systems that would slow a vehicle and pull it safely to a roadside if driver drowsiness is detected.

A current example of such a system is Mitsubishi Fuso’s Lane Departure Warning System, which detects land deviances through a white line recognition camera. Once a deviation is detected, the system alerts a driver and displays a warning on the dashboard.

Natural language processing

Advances in natural language processing (NLP) could allow for more intuitive and conversational interactions between drivers and their cars, making it easier to control systems and features using spoken commands.

NLP is a type of AI that extracts meaning from language to make informed decisions.

For instance, you could ask your car to open the rear door for a passenger and it could respond automatically in real time. Vehicles are already responding to less mechanical tasks, like voice-command navigation and route optimization. Drivers can also ask their vehicle for points of interest or traffic updates.

But it goes much further than simple commands. For instance, a vehicle could be programmed to respond to specific voices, eliminating the need for keys.

Furthermore, in the future, voice recognition could be used to control whatever a driver wanted inside a vehicle.

Mind-controlled vehicles

Ready for real sci-fi? Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) could allow drivers to control systems and features using their thoughts, reducing the need for manual inputs and allowing for even safer and more convenient operation.

Large auto manufacturers are taking BCIs seriously enough to invest serious money into research. Approaches to integrating BCIs would utilize some type of headwear.

Drivers could hypothetically control vehicle features with thought, like adjusting interior lighting and climate control. This has practical implications for disabled drivers, allowing them to activate vehicles features they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

“BCI technology can make it possible to relieve the user even more, in order to be able to focus on the driving experience,” said Markus Schäfer, a member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

What will the future adopt?

It’s difficult to know which of these will be embraced by the customers, or to what degree. Some of them may become fads that fade over time as other solutions eclipse them.

Nevertheless, advancements in HMI technology are coming. They will continue to aim to enhance the driving experience, improve safety and make vehicles more connected.

The automotive HMI market is swelling. In 2021, it was valued at $10.71 billion and has since been projected to grow to $18.64 billion by 2028.

Startups and researchers continue to advance cutting-edge technologies at breakneck speeds, and large manufacturers and OEMs are finding ways to offer newer, better, and safer experiences with each advancement.

What’s next in HMI automotive applications remains to be seen. But the future is interesting.

If you have an idea or an innovation in the field of HMI, FUSO GreenLab is waiting to hear from you! Submit your idea for a chance to partner with us.


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