Human-machine interfaces (HMI) in automotive product design serve as a major bond between driver and machine by connecting the driver to the critical systems of the automobile. They also provide accessibility to music, phones, and navigation. HMI systems are becoming more important than ever, as they provide a key link between the driver and the outside world. As consumers become more engaged with their smartphones and virtual assistants the opportunity for vehicle manufacturers to enhance their products has never been greater. According to a study by Capgemini Research Institute By 2022 73% of drivers expect to use voice assistants built into their car for one or more purposes.
As the need for manufacturers to create driver-focused infotainment systems grows, creating systems that maintain safety, ease of use, and driver acceptance are top priorities of HMI design and development. For designers of vehicle HMI systems, this is not an easy task and creates many challenges to overcome. In a recent article, STAR Automotive and Mobility experts discuss many of the challenges facing automotive HMI technology.
Safety, a top priority in automobile product design
As with any design element of automotive manufacturing safety is always a top priority. The World Health Organization states that worldwide, road accidents account for more than 1.35 million deaths per year. Creating a safe vehicle HMI means maintaining driver focus. A safe HMI must require minimal actions of little complexity by the driver. The rapid advancements of voice recognition and the adaptability of AI systems are promising when talking about safety. These features allow drivers to retain focus on their surroundings, further minimizing distractions and reducing the effort needed for the driver to engage.
Creating a user-friendly vehicle HMI
Ease of use is another top focus of automotive HMI design and development. Without the ease of use, other principles of HMI will suffer. Drivers can become frustrated with a system that demands too much of their attention. This can inhibit the driver’s ability to maintain focus on their surroundings. Loss of focus will impact driver safety and their will of use. A good HMI is there when the driver needs it and not there when they don’t. Creating a user-friendly HMI is about providing a pleasing automotive user experience that enhances the driver’s time spent in the vehicle without the compromise of safety.
How driver acceptance can create brand loyalty
Finally, driver acceptance, the willing involvement of the driver is key in order for automakers to capitalize on a chance to create brand loyalty. An accurate assessment of your demographics needs and desires is important when creating an HMI system. Manufacturers have an opportunity to create a helpful in-car assistant that can ensure brand loyalty and increase brand awareness. A winner of a 2020 Red Dot Design award, the lovable and helpful robot NOMI co-created by the Munich-based NIO UI/UX team and STAR, illustrates a perfect example of how the right design approach can gain consumer acceptance, trust, and loyalty by consumers.
Following these key principles in HMI design and development and having the right design team in your corner, can make achieving the task of creating a safe user friendly, and engaging HMI system within reach. The constant evolution of HMI technology ensures the future will continue to change and advance. STARS Design Director, Wolfgang Klein talks more in-depth about trends and the future of vehicles in a recent podcast about automotive HMI and Voice AI in the new in-car experience.