Continental sees new challenges for automotive HMIs

January 20, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In the design of future-proof HMI concepts, automotive supplier Continental aspires to a holistic, integrated approach. "Car drivers should be able to intuitively comprehend what they need to know. It is about a dialog without words", said Continental board member Helmut Matschi at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

According to Matschi, it is necessary that a vehicle anticipates which information a driver needs in any driving situation. According to these expectations to the vehicle's user interface in the future, Continental has sketched its approach to resolve the challenges regarding the Human-Machine Interface at the congress. Besides an overall increasing number of functions in the car, HMI concepts have to take future trends into account, such as the different shades of automated driving. New automated driving functions require to "think further with respect to the dialogue between humans and machines, said Matschi who heads Continental's Interior Division. "The evolution of driver assistance to automated driving results in new tasks and challenges for the HMI".

The consequence of this evolution will be that a static automotive HMI with dashboard instruments and control elements will be changed to a dynamic, holistic GMI. The control elements and displays will have to adapt to the respective diving situation, Matschi said. This refers in particular to phases when normal, driver-controlled driving changes over to automated driving and vice versa.

In the implementation of this holistic control concept, interior cameras play an important role because they represent the missing link in the information flow between driver, environment and vehicle: While it is important that automated driving functions can be activated very easily and smoothly, it is also necessary that the handover back to the driver must be done in an intuitive way. It is important that in this phase the driver's attention is focused on the handover - a difficult requirement giving the fact that during automated driving the driver is not necessarily paying attention to driving. "In such a situation the HMI must be adapt to the driver, not the other way around", Matschi said. "The car must be able to identify the driver's status and act accordingly."

Interior cameras can measure the driver's head position as well as his line of sight. In