If you think about it, not only the drive technologies of our cars are changing, but also the way we interact with them. Remember when accessing car‘s functions meant clicking a bunch of buttons or endlessly scrolling through menus? Sure you do, it wasn‘t so long ago. Now Hyundai is trying to imagine how we will control car’s functions in the near future.
It is quite an interesting subject, because infotainment system is moving forward not just because of innovation, but also because of fashion. Car manufacturers have to look at our new mobile decides to see what features have to be adapted to the car. First of all, of course it is a touchscreen. It doesn’t look like a good idea at first glance, because operating a touchscreen is typically more difficult than physical buttons when on the move. But now people are used to doing that and lack of physical buttons seems desirable, because it removes some of the clutter.
But there are other options, such a voice commands. They remove the need to touch anything. We have seen voice commands in older cars as well, but in the past the system really didn’t work that well, constantly misinterpreting what we are trying to say. Now Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are doing a much better job and many car manufacturers, such as Hyundai with its i40, have a dedicated voice control button on the steering wheel.
You can also use gesture controls. Just waving your hand in front of the infotainment screen makes the volume of the music change, or accesses other car’s functions. Hyundai has showcased 3D-gesture control car technology with its Connectivity Cockpit Concept. This system is based on infrared and camera sensors, which recognize driver’s motions. People can use certain gestures in mid-air to access navigation, infotainment, audio, temperature control and smartphone features. Of course, gesture controls can be further enhanced using some wearable devices.
This could all lead to augmented reality. Real world you see through your windscreen could be expanded using some virtual features. For example, GPS information and directions could be overlaying real roads and streets ahead of you, making navigation that much more accurate. Hyundai already uses augmented reality to help drivers get to know their vehicle. A special smartphone app uses the built-in camera to recognise and display the different components in the vehicle. You just point your phone to objects under the hood or inside of the car and you will see explanations on your screen. It is all very clever and helpful if you find reading manuals too boring.
A much more simple option would be a heads-up display. This system projects some of the data, such as speed of the car as well as basic navigation information and warnings at the bottom of the windscreen. It allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road all the time. Hyundai’s new crossover Kona has such system displaying an eight-inch projected image into the driver’s sight line.
It is actually rather interesting, because some methods of communicating with your car are still considered futuristic, but they are already being introduced in affordable cars. Future really is here already.