Prototyping, usability, and real driving experience in the virtual world: experts at intive are leading the way when it comes to leveraging these for human-machine interfaces (HMI), thanks to visualizations that turn concepts into reality.
With virtual and augmented reality and an in-house simulation framework, designers, engineers, and developers can immediately experience where their control and infotainment elements will sit in the vehicle and what the user experience will feel like.
How people interact with interfaces determines the user experience in the car, says Alexander Geilfuß, our Director HMI at intive.
Why are interfaces so important for car manufacturers?
"The key figures and features of cars we grew up with – horsepower, engine capacity, acceleration – are becoming less and less of a decision criterion when buying a car. Today, manufacturers are increasingly differentiating themselves through the services they offer: Car subscriptions, apps, and other additional services. All these services require an interface. And every interaction with the interface decides the user experience, which hugely impacts the business success of car manufacturers."
What is the challenge in interface development?
"Designing interfaces is traditionally time-consuming and cost-intensive. Designers and developers come up with a concept, but it has been difficult to predict whether it will actually work as intended and what the final experience will be. Until now, people used illustrations or click dummies – a kind of interface illusion where you can click on elements, but the interface doesn't react the way it does in the car later."
"Interfaces require not only design but also content, as navigation elements react to map data, the current position of the vehicle, traffic, and so on. That can't be represented with a click dummy. The real experience is simply not accessible in such an illustration. For that, you need an extensive simulation, like the one we use."
You talk about a completely functional simulation. What do you mean by that?
"We create the interior of the vehicle in 3D. Via augmented reality (AR), we superimpose the later appearance of the vehicle on the development skeletons. Developers and designers can sit in the vehicle skeleton and test out the virtual interface exactly where it will later be in the vehicle, using AR glasses."
"But this is just the beginning. We now offer a completely functional simulation – in our simulation environment, all interfaces are live, so they are fed with actual data in the background and thus behave as in the real vehicle. Even the new navigation can be tested in real-time while driving using AR. With such a close-to-production simulation, true rapid prototyping can be realized."
"This virtual solution allows us to quickly create an experience that can ultimately save the customer an expensive hardware conversion and also avert wrong decisions at an early stage. This in turn saves time and money."
Rapid prototyping unlocks quicker timelines and better UX
Today, experienceability helps to design interfaces faster and more appropriately, thus reducing time-to-market. Developers and designers can test interfaces exactly where they will be in the production vehicle. End users can also be more easily integrated into the development of features and thus systematically improve the user experience in the vehicle through continuous testing.
With such a deep and powerful visualization, which is not an illustration but a close-to-production experience, HMI teams are able to significantly accelerate development. Rapid prototyping is already a reality thanks to virtual environments and will become increasingly important in the future for manufacturers seeking to boost the quality of their user experience.
As a pioneer in automotive software, we at intive have helped shape the digital transformation of the automotive industry in Germany and use our deep domain knowledge and technical expertise to give our customers a competitive edge.
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