Issue: May 2019


Protecting consumers from in-vehicle information overload



by Nick Palmer

Feedback from the market shows that a disjointed approach to the provision of infotainment and vehiclerelated information can lead to a sense of data overload or confusion for the driver and passengers.

This has the potential of putting the brakes on the adoption of connected car technology. To foster consumer trust, and help drivers embrace the highly connected and autonomous vehicle experience, HARMAN says it has reimagined its Digital Cockpit offerings, while ensuring they are scalable for a range of entry-level and premium luxury vehicles.

The HARMAN Digital Cockpit is designed to simplify vehicle display layouts to present both critical and ancillary information in an intuitive and cohesive layout, in order to provide market differentiation through the experience of being in the car. “It wasn’t too long ago that a vehicle’s value was measured by its mechanical performance and driving dynamics. With the emerging popularity of shared mobility and in-vehicle technology, value is now being measured by experience-per-mile,” said Dinesh Paliwal, HARMAN President and CEO at GIMS 2019.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Mike Peters, Executive Vice President and President, Connected Car Division at HARMAN International, to tell us more about Rinspeed MicroSNAP, which is HARMAN and Rinspeed’s vision of Level 5 autonomy. Peters: HARMAN and Rinspeed have a longlasting partnership on new vehicle concepts, and new mobility concepts. Level 5 autonomy means that, together with Rinspeed, we are not only the mobility provider, but also the enabler of mobility services. Therefore, our vision of Level 5 is going into ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), supplying systems and enabling technology such as the digital cockpit, telematics, and connectivity systems. This is our vision and in our collaboration with Rinspeed we combine their concepts with our ability to develop highly integrated systems, including HMI (human-machine interface) and connectivity.

AI: How does your enhanced suite of sensing technologies help automakers and drivers to keep an eye on the big picture at all times? Peters: The interesting thing is that, for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy, you need sensors not only outside of the car, but also looking inside the car. It doesn’t help if you only know the environment around the car. You have to learn the habits, and to know the status and the behavior of the drivers of the vehicle. We have been contracted by customers to develop sensing technologies, inside cameras, and sensors managing distraction and observing the driver. This kind of information is downlinked to the autonomous system, in order to improve responsiveness and the interaction between the driver and the vehicle.

AI: How does HARMAN’s next level Surround View Sensor Intelligence deliver a safer driving experience? Peters: Being aware of what is happening around the car definitely increases safety by helping the driver to make more informed decisions. The important thing is that we have a unique technology where we use processing power in our central computing platform to enable surround views. Integrating this from a cost perspective, from integration perspective and from performance perspective is, in our opinion, the best solution.

AI: How critical will HARMAN’s Cabin Monitoring System be to the human handover process in future semiautonomous vehicles? Peters: Especially in semi-autonomous driving vehicles, the key to successful implementation is the ability to hand control back the driver. The idea of autonomous driving is that you can do other things like watch TV or movies, or read newspapers. This means the driver will probably be distracted. If there is some danger or obstacle that the autonomous system cannot handle then you have to hand control back to the driver as quickly as possible. But, you have to be sure that the driver is ready to take control. For that you definitely need sensing technologies like cameras, and also haptic devices like temperature sensors. You can monitor many things, but then it is all about HMI, how to alert and bring the driver back. This is the most critical portion of semi-autonomous driving. From a complexity point of view the interaction with the driver at Level 4 is more complex than at level 5 because you always have to think about bringing the driver back and that’s why many companies don’t touch Level 4 and want to go straight to Level 5. But, you still have to pass Level 4.

HARMAN’s Cabin Monitoring System uses sensors to capture the most important first-order biometric features of a driver, such as eye gaze, head position, and pupil diameter. The system can also analyze the auditory content and heart or breathing rates of occupants using proprietary and patented algorithms to provide second-order biometric signals such as emotional activity and cognitive load. The ability to analyze the state of the driver is an important milestone for preventive automotive safety features. While capable of working in lower levels of autonomy, HARMAN’s solution is able to ensure a seamless hand-over between car and human at Level 3 autonomous cars, and will therefore be critical to the success of semi-autonomous vehicles in the future.

AI: How does HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit simplify vehicle display layouts? Peters: The Digital Cockpit is an integration solution where we drive multiple displays from one computing platform. This has a lot of advantages – cost, integration, performance and experience. It is scalable across the range, from entry-level to premium luxury vehicles. In its base-level configuration HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit simplifies vehicle display layouts to present both critical and ancillary information in an intuitive and cohesive layout. Capable of showing ADAS feature information, turn-by-turn navigation, multi-media player information, feature menus and more, the entry-level Digital Cockpit can also seamlessly integrate with a user’s smartphone to bridge multiple personal assistants (such as Google, Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby) while adding HARMANspecific driver related skills into all the clouds.

AI: How does the Premium Digital Cockpit integrate a vehicle’s cluster, infotainment and safety features? Peters: For drivers seeking the ultimate in-vehicle experience right from the factory, HARMAN’s Premium Digital Cockpit and Compute Platform with integrated modular hardware is an endto- end package that seamlessly integrates a vehicle’s cluster, infotainment and safety features. With QLED and OLED display technologies for optimal color regardless of the time of day, the solution also features facial recognition for driver monitoring using our Cabin Monitoring System. Basically, we have a platform in place developed for various customers where we have two Operational Systems (OS) in one platform dealing through a Hypervisor. You have infotainment core which could be for instance Android or Linux partitioning, and then you have functional safety core which is driving the cluster which is usually Linux Real Time (RT) system - two operational systems onto one platform truly decoupled so if something happens functional safety still exists.

AI: What’s next for HARMAN? Peters: For starters, we are investing a lot into becoming a major player in the ADAS environment. We are sensing the market, and expanding our footprint there. Building on functional safety can be challenging, but we have the vision, investment, expertise, and partnerships in place to thrive in this space. We will also remain a leader in digital consumer experience. Traditionally, a laundry list of vehicle features differentiated brands and models. Looking forward, consumers are far less interested in that, and in many cases, do not care to know all the features of a particular model. The future is all about experiences in the car. Having a pleasurable experience is the key, and therefore we think about this as experience per mile or EPM – In the past, we measured performance by kilometers per liter, or revolutions per minute. With the new era of electric and autonomous cars, performance will be measured by experience per mile!



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