During Car HMI Europe, Wolfgang Klein, Design Director at Star, gave an interview about which technologies and smart mobility concepts will disrupt the HMI market over the next few years.
What are the main factors influencing current automotive HMI developments?
The automotive sector is converging ever more strongly with other consumer, prosumer and lifestyle domains. This convergence, in turn, leads to a growing pressure from non-automotive companies in terms of the usability and performance of digital services. As a result, some OEMs now fully rely on synergies with UI existing frameworks, such as Android Auto.
Another macro trend is the shared ownership of cars, which extends the customer journey (through constant on- and offboarding) and requires more transparent asset management (by showing when and where potential cars are located).
Which new technologies and smart mobility concepts do you think will disrupt the HMI market and why?
Visual HMIs seem to have reached a level of maturity, having successfully made the computer personal. The next frontier, as I see it, will be to make the computer a person. Already today, voice assistance is a bustling melting pot for machine learning and audio-driven interfaces. Another main disruptor for the HMI market will be sophisticated telepresence technology, including AR. Besides creating more immersive experiences, they might cut out the necessity to travel in the first place. Data and machine learning will play an ever more important role in providing connectivity, seamlessness, comfort, personalization and efficiency during our time on-the-go. Whoever succeeds in bridging the gap between OEMs, mobility service providers, and other moving parts in the mobility ecosystem, will disrupt the market.
Regardless of the ownership model, cars will remain relevant as modes of transportation, thanks to unparalleled levels of comfort and last-mile navigation. Presumably, even passenger drones will not deliver the same kind of grid resolution any time soon, due to legal constraints.
What role do you feel automation will play in the development of future HMI concepts and user experience strategies?
As a first step, automation will require dedicated efforts to avoid and disperse occupants’ fears. Once trust has been established and drivers dare to take their hands off the wheel, occupants should find new ways to bond with and take charge of the car they’re in. One key way to address both these points, as I argue in my session, is to build a credible and trustworthy car personality.
What are the main challenges at the moment with regards to HMI concept development?
Many automotive players think of their competitors exclusively as other automotive players. This can lead to a self-perpetuating mental model that underestimates the innovation, sophistication and pleasure of non-automotive digital service experiences, or breakthroughs in the IoT sector. As a result, digital facets are underrepresented in the innovation process, interactions across mobility touchpoints are incongruent or don’t even cover the entire product life cycle.
What would you say is the most iconic HMI from the past 50 years?
Firstly, Nomi in NIO ES8 – A manifestation of the car’s intelligence that puts a charming and easy-to-read face on an otherwise abstract or overwhelming process. As I see it, a game-changer in the automotive industry!
And secondly, the Tesla Model 3 – a no-nonsense UI that doesn’t distract the user with ornamental interior details. Instead, the threshold to using digital services is minimal, and updating UI hardware post-purchase is easy. This UI promises to age most gracefully.