Re-UX

UX · UI · Automotive HMI
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Reinventing UX for next-gen in-car HMI

As part of this project, we assessed usability & intuitiveness of existing signifiers within E-Class environment. As cars get intelligent, it should let the passenger & the driver know - how, what and when car is taking over for certain automated features. While we designed solution for present, we proposed concepts which can be used over coming years and in far future.

Clients

Mercedes-Benz R&D

Time

24 weeks

Team

Arshed Hakeem
Sameer Malkhare

Role

UX Design Intern

NOTE: For this project I wont be able to share parts of my research, deliverables or designs merc-hero

As part of this project, we assessed usability & intuitiveness of existing signifiers within E-Class environment. As cars get intelligent, it should let the passenger & the driver know - how, what and when car is taking over for certain automated features. While we designed solution for present, we proposed concepts which can be used over coming years and in far future.

Our key areas of focus during this project are as following:

x NavigationImproving existing navigation to make it more seemless, glanceable & intuitive.


x Safety WarningsPedestrian/Vehical or obstacle detection and warning.
x DisplaysHUD, Heads Up & Instument cluster.


x Contextual alertsSuggestive alerts about automation features being used or turned on/off.
Research Existing system

What has changed significantly over past few years is the integration of electronics and recently computers into the HMI (e.g. GPS, telematics, ADAS, and infotainment systems). These elements have introduced new layers of complexity to interact with the system, which has substantially increased cognitive load for the driver. Car companies continuously work to simplify these complex interactions within car by introducing new ways of controlling in-car features. Therefore, studying exisiting system was very crucial for us to get started off with this project. Easy access to information on the current setup, helped us in understanding where are we now in terms of technologies being used in the car.

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Benchmarking with competition

In order to have a clear picture of what is existing in market and how Mercedes-Benz E Class fared against them, we mapped all problem areas against our competitors. This mapping helped us in understanding lot of positives and negatives of the solution that everyone was using to tackle these issues. This mapping will also help us in evaluating our concepts at later stage. Below is a small snippet of comparison of Speedometer in HUD:

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Safety Standards & Design Guidelines

Safety standards or guidelines set by Mercedes-Benz for a proven better and non-distracting experience of car driving, will be very helpful while ideating concepts. Along with this, referring to guidline documents by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) & SAE International(Society of Automotive Engineers) gave us lot of insight on what can help us minimize driver distraction level.

Technology trends

As discussed earlier the complexity of in car controls is increasing, introducing new interaction paradigms will help in decreasing the cognitive load posed by these complexities. We evaluated all the near future interaction paradigms as predicted by the below (see graph) 'Gartner Hype-Cycle', listing down the pros and the cons for the technologies. Since we were developing concepts for the present & the future, we considered interaction paradigms which are in the technology trigger or peak of inflated expections phase. Below (see list) is the list of technologies that we considered under our scope when working on concepts:

  • Augmented Reality
  • Gaze tracking
  • Face/Biometric Recognition
  • Ultrasonic Haptic Controls
  • Volumetric & Holographic Displays
  • 3D Stereoscopic Displays
  • Brain-computer Interface




future-trends
The Hype Cycle for emerging technologies Source: Gartner (July 2016)

Input from Engineering team

After the exploration of the vehicle manuals numerous queries regarding the on-road scenarios/conditions arose. These were then cleared by sessions organized by a team of engineers from the vehicle safety engineering dept.

Primary Research Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive Simulator

Secondary research helped us in understanding the scenarios we should be focusing on when we are doing primary research and as well as while ideating concepts. We used simulator to recreate all those scenarios in different weather conditions, different time of the day and different locations (city & highway).

Drivers Viewpoint

A Vehicle Test Engineer was assigned to us, who brought with him his ~10000kms test driving experience of merc cars in major public roads like Autobahns, Bundesstrasse etc, played a major role in helping us understand the system. Interviewing him, highlighted all the small-big details of the problems he faced when a semi autonomous car was introduced to him. His insights helped us understand the importance of communication that car has to do whenever it is assisting him during the drive. With lot of automations coming into the picture, car has to become more human not only in terms of taking over certain features but also talking to its passengers and driver.

Understanding Pain points Revisiting all the existing setup inside an E-Class was one of the first thing we did. To understand it better we became the user and placed outselves on the driving seat of the car. Many possible key issues were highlighted by us during these visits, which have been shortly put below:

mercedes
  • Visibility - Does the driver know which features are ON and when they are ON?
  • Clarity What is the meaning of numerous icons?
  • Intuitiveness Is feedback intuitive and reliable?
  • Discoverability Are the available features easily discoverable and accessible?
  • Trustworthy Does the driver feel well informed and in control at all times?
Design Approach
x User-Centered DesignFocus on the needs, wants, and behavior of the end user (driver)


x Considering Facets of UXUseful, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, Credible


x Capitalize on the HardwareExplore multi-modal/multi-screen HMI possibilities
x Enhancing Machine IntelligenceBy letting car take decisions/provide personalized driving experience


x Enhancing Auto-Driving ExperienceBy keeping driver in the loop


x Offering Seamless ConnectivityStaying connected on-the-go
Design Principles
x SeamlessEasy, efficient & intelligent interactions for all age-groups which understands when user wants what. This allows user to save his precious time


x GlanceableSafe, smart & soothing so that user doesn't need to take eyes off the road while it subtly indicates vital info
x IntuitiveSimple, natural & responsive interactions to reduce cognitive load of the driver


Deliverables

( PS : The interaction areas/surfaces related to the concepts wont be shared publicly due to confidentiality reasons )

Seems like you've reached the end Hope you enjoyed it, if so I would be very thankful if you'd share this project :)

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(C) Designed & Developed by Abhishek Umrao | 2016