The role, potential, and future of HMI


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We have a continuum of control over a vehicle from direct human contact to the vehicle driving itself in response to the driver's wishes, or, in a more fanciful world, anticipating the driver's intention and acting accordingly.

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The role, potential, and future of HMI

  1. 1. The role, potential, and future of HMIWhat HMI isThe term “Human-Machine Interface” (HMI) also refers to "man–machine interface" (MMI)and sometimes "human–computer interface" (HCI). “HMI” supplants the more sexist “MMI”,and “HCI” refers more to human interaction with actual computers, such as laptops andpersonal computers (PC). To understand the full import of HMI, explaining some historicalperspective is necessary. As generally applied, the HMI has been around since the timewhen machines were invented, the underlying thinking being how to make the human use ofthe machine more efficient. To appreciate the importance of the HMI, we can think of Heros(of Alexandria, Egypt - c. 10–70 C.E.) primitive steam toy, where jet nozzles mounted inopposite directions on arms protruding from a sphere were powered by steam fed by anentrance tube to a rod placed between two vertical supports, causing the whole assembly tospin. One merely looked at the device as a novelty, as there was no discernible way aperson could do anything with it. However, placing an attachment, such as a gear (aninterface), would present the idea that the machine could be used to power something,although that was never done. Heros device would remain as a mere toy until the latter1700s, when in 1698 English inventor Thomas Savery patented the first crude steamengine. Similarly, designing a farm tractor hitch to indicate that various devices can behooked to the vehicle is an example of an interface that gives the user information that apiece of machinery can be used in numerous ways. Interfaces, then, tell people whatfunctions are available for use and how to interact with them.As devices became more complicated, humans had to be more mindful of how well theywere functioning, as well as whether they functioned at all. The advent of gauges andmeters allowed a more human-machine interaction, where humans would discern the levelof functionality and, in turn were able to respond. Today, we have computer graphics torender interfaces to tell users what they can do with an application, the most common beinggraphical user interfaces (GUI). Graphics are not found only on a computer but are what ispresented to the driver of a modern automobile to show what a person can do.Depending upon the price of the vehicle, the user gets what s/he wants up to the point ofthe car actually being able to steer itself. Two groups of technologies are available, the first 1------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences:
  2. 2. being directly related to the steerage of the vehicle and the second, “other”, non-steering-related features, such as entertainment, weather, and so forth. Types of information canbe conveyed visually and by audio pertaining to fuel, condition of brakes, tire pressure,maps, and driving suggestions. For electro-mobile vehicles design isnt affected; there arethe same considerations, only the information reflects status of power – battery, thermal,and so forth. Emerging technology is more interactive with the driver, such as being able todetect and warn of drowsiness. There are touch screen technology and interfaces withmobile devices, such as Blackberry and iPad. Maps can show traffic lights and optimumspeed needed to pass through them safely. Basic Human-Machine Interface [1]So, we see the logical way of discussing HMI is to determine what the function is beingperformed and how the human interacts with it. First, we must assess how far thetechnology can be developed.Potential and limits of user centered design HMIWe have a continuum of control over a vehicle from direct human contact to the vehicledriving itself in response to the drivers wishes, or, in a more fanciful world, anticipating thedrivers intention and acting accordingly. In between passive gauges and a vehicle withconsciousness is where we find ourselves. User needs and wants are balanced bytechnological capability, but, perhaps more importantly, environmental and physicalconstraints, as well as practical limits. Just because something can be done technologicallydoesnt mean that it should be done, such as the flying cars. (In fact, they have beeninvented and flown but they really never “took off”.) HMI is not all about a matter of glitzand gadgetry. We must see everything in a larger context. Two areas in which HMI is beingdeveloped are in actual driving and in personal comfort. We will consider first how driving is 2------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences:
  3. 3. being shaped.“Sustainability” is a major watchword, and this comes in the form of traffic management andfuel availability, among other factors. Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Companyspeech at Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference in March 2011. [TED is anonprofit organization dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading [2]. Ford stated that we cannotsimply have more roads. For example, the average commute in Beijing is five hours. Inthe summer of 2010 there was a 100 mile traffic jam that took 11 days to clear in China. Inthe coming decades 75% of the worlds population will be living in cities, 50 of which willhave more than 10 million people.To address all of this, Ford stated that we need “smart cars, “smart” roads, public transport,and other measures that will address the overcrowding of cars on the highways in order tohave the freedom of mobility. Some technology to address the issue has been developed.Smart cars have the capability of detecting empty parking spaces, thus obviating having todrive a long time searching. Already, in many cities there are timed traffic lights, where bymaintaining an optimal speed, a driver can “make” every light without stopping. Added tothis, however, is forward-looking traffic control (automatic positioning), where the driver iswarned via an HMI of accidents, congestion, and construction, thus being given the option oftaking different routes. A major cause of accidents is tailgating and failing to keep distance,but cars will have not only monitoring equipment but devices exist to physically slow downor stop the car before it crashes. Numerous systems have been deployed giving driversdirections through the global positioning system (GPS) as to the best routes both audiblyand by text [3]. The only step remaining is to coordinate the cars with each other. To dothis requires a global network and interconnected solutions. Vehicles will need to betreated as a large organism when viewed all at once, rather than individual isolated personalunits.To maximize the effectiveness of this technology means an integrated transport system thatcoordinates traffic flow. At this point drivers have the choice to override therecommendations of a cars computer, but it is by no means certain that this will be possibleif current trends continue of more automobiles being on the road. People may perforce haveless of a choice about being in total charge about where and when they will navigate, notunlike a packet of information being routed over a communications network by sophisticated 3------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences:
  4. 4. management software. Development is progressing towards cars communicating with eachother via mesh networks, much in the same way people do in walking in crowded spaces, inorder to keep distance and choose the most efficient routes. It is anticipated that a personentering a crowded area will be switched to a network and integrated into the trafficmanagement process for that area.Aside from technology to regulate the movement of cars in a coordinated fashion, carsharing [4], mass transit, and bicycling must be used, but the former two are anticipated tobe in the network as well. Besides these modes of transportation is what might be called“personal busses”. Masdar City in Abu Dhabi claims itself to be carbon neutral and has asystem of driverless “Personal Rapid Transit” electric vehicles, where a person hops in and istransported automatically to where s/he wants to go [5]. This system points to a majorproblem that current petroleum fueled vehicles face: peak oil. Organizations like Oil Drum[6] argue that there simply will not be petroleum available in the future for vehicles.Alternative fuel sources and switching to electro-mobility (all electric transportation systems)will be necessary, but this does not seem to imply major changes in the basic concepts ofHMI. Germany is pressing ahead with its national platform for electro-mobility, whichprioritizes research, development, and deployment of electric-based transportation,including networking all transportation systems [7]. There will be, of course, differentinformation displayed in such systems, such as the amount of battery power left and thethermal condition of electric vehicles, but the main function will be the integration of vehiclesinto a global transportation network. Want to learn more about the future of automotive HMI? Visit our download centre for more articles, whitepapers and interviews: 4------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences:
  5. 5. References (Subject is indicated by URL – accessed 2 July 2011)[1][2],[3][4][5],8599,2043934,00.html[6][7][8][9][10] (Subject is indicated by URL – accessed 2 July 2011), 5------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences:
  6. 6. IQPC:IQPC provides tailored conferences, large events, seminars and internal training programmes formanagers around the world. Topics include current information on industry trends, technicaldevelopments and regulatory rules and guidelines. IQPCs conferences are market leading events,highly regarded for their opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas for professionals from variousindustries.IQPC has offices in major cities across six continents including: Berlin, Dubai, London, New York, SaoPaulo, Singapore, Johannesburg, Sydney and Toronto. IQPC leverages a global research base of bestpractices to produce an unrivaled portfolio of problem-solving conferences. Each year IQPC offersapproximately 2,000 worldwide conferences, seminars, and related learning programs. 6------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IQPC GmbH | Friedrichstr. 94 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany t: +49 (0) 30 2091 3330 | f: +49 (0) 30 2091 3263 | e: | w: Visit IQPC for a portfolio of topic-related events, congresses, seminars and conferences: