The user interface in the vehicle is becoming more and more important – and increasingly complex – as a mark of differentiation. This is why IAV advocates the use of virtual HMI development: customers can experience design and functions at an early stage, handle driving situations and, on this basis, make well-informed decisions. Hardware prototypes only play a part at the end of the development process.
Indicators are merging, displays are covering large parts of the instrument panel and headup displays are projecting information directly onto the windshield – in the correct perspective of course and precisely where danger threatens, for example. Modern user interfaces provide fascinating options. “At the same time, the subject is growing in complexity”, reports Dr. Marcus Heinath, head of the UX, HMI and Instrument Clusters department at IAV. “This is why, for many years, we have been using virtual reality early on in the development process as a means of revealing the capabilities and limitations of modern technology.” As a result, IAV customers can experience the dynamic of the user interface as early as the concept phase and answer important questions. What, for example, might the display look like on the windshield? How good is the projection? This way, concepts can be quickly evaluated and modified or rejected in good time. “We want to move as far away as possible from hardware prototypes and use virtual models to reach wellfounded decisions”, Heinath says. “For this, we use virtual and augmented reality to drive our customers through entire scenarios – whether downtown, in the country or on the freeway.”
Wearing AR glasses in the driving simulator
For this, IAV has a whole library of virtual tours. Other road users and typical scenarios – such as an overlooked right of way – can be modeled in any chosen way. Virtual decision-making involves a 3-D model of the interior as well as HMI components that can either show the actual later passenger compartment or a neutral environment – e.g. for tests with test persons who evaluate the HMI. At the Gifhorn Development Center, IAV also has a driving simulator with a life-size vehicle interior model. In it, test persons can “drive” the vehicle and see the contents of a head-up display through augmented-reality glasses.
“Using these virtual methods, we have successfully completed a large number of projects over recent years”, Heinath reports. “As a result, we can estimate very well what is possible and what makes sense. It is always important to keep an eye on technology’s limits without allowing creativity to suffer.” As a particular added value for his customers, he not only places emphasis on close cooperation with IAV’s vehicle interior experts but also on the entire chain of solutions. His department can provide assistance throughout an HMI development process from the initial idea, design and AR/VR-assisted decision-making right through to constructing prototypes in the final phase. It can also provide validation on the basis of field trials across all phases.