Addressing the Trends and Challenges in Designing Automotive UX

  Jan 27, 2021 11:46:15 AM

When it came to the idea of designing a competent user experience (UX), Steve Jobs once said, “Some people think design means how it looks but of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.” A sentiment which echoed the belief that focusing on the user rather than technology was crucial for UX. This is something which still holds true, especially as the Automotive industry is at an inflection point where Connected, Autonomous, Smart/Shared Mobility, and Electrification (CASE) will significantly change how users interact with future mobility solutions. OEMs and Tier-1s are already developing ‘smart’ and emotive in-vehicle experiences.

Last year, Faraday Future launched a fully connected Infotainment system comprising of, at least, 11 different screens with over 100 inches of display surfaces inside the vehicle. Similarly, Byton launched a 48-inch center console consolidating infotainment, telematics, instrument cluster screens with a tablet-based touchpad interface at the steering wheel. The rise of Android Automotive is also changing how a user interacts with their vehicles, while ensuring both consistency and customizability across various brands, interiors, and hardware.

We foresee that the following UX trends will impact both the development and validation efforts in the coming years:

  • Information
    The growth in collection and usage of information and applications be it for navigation, personalization, connectivity, or energy will drastically change how a user interacts with the vehicle. This will result in an evolution of the in-vehicle Human-Machine Interface (HMI) to handle and address the needs of this surge in information.
  • Technology
    HMI technologies in the coming years will look towards enhancing UX in a multimodal fashion. This includes the implementation of features such as 3D display, voice assistants, augmented & extended reality, air gestures, and biometrics.
  • Input Data
    With vehicles moving towards higher levels of autonomy, HMI input data, configurability, and assets will gradually increase leading to complexity in designs. The challenge would, therefore, be in increasing safety via displayed information and interactions with the end-user.
  • Socialization & Personalization
    With vehicles moving towards providing mobile hospitality, there is an increase in user expectations of in-vehicle services. OEMs will have to work towards ensuring customized features while maintaining control over their branding and quality of services.

Also, if we look at the technology roadmap, on average almost all the automotive industry would be deploying advanced HMI features in the next five years as per the IHS Markit report. Therefore, it is prudent to develop and customize applications to unify all three stages of a driving experience i.e., the pre-ride, in-ride, and end-ride information/actuation.

Having the right ecosystem and partnerships is therefore crucial in addressing the following challenges while designing UX:

  • Fragmented Workflow
    There are a variety of HMI designing tools, which separately specialize in 2D and 3D asset creation. Effectively utilizing them to prevent a fragmented workflow is crucial to provide rich and featured UX designs.
  • Integrating Multiple Formats
    Across the in-vehicle operating system there are multiple file formats and HMI toolchains. Integrating these diverse formats into a unified experience for the end-user and stakeholders is a crucial aspect during the design and prototyping phase.
  • Safety Content
    Achieving the necessary safety goals requires complex integration of both 2D & 3D content in a unified manner.
  • Partial Recreation of HMI
    The functionality of tools used for UX development can be limited when compared to UX design tools especially when it comes to HMI assets, animations, and user-flow. This gets trickier to deal with as the necessary file format conversions can further lead to loss of information if not dealt with in the right manner.

Sasken, as a systems integrator, has been designing, implementing, and maintaining applications for numerous automotive OEMs and Tier-1s. By partnering with customers and prestigious leaders in the ecosystem, we are delivering on the vision of a flexible yet consistent user design across the automotive industry.

Learn more about our expertise in the automotive domain and how we are helping our customers.

Posted by:
Debashis Panigrahi
Manager, Automotive Portfolio, Sasken

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