Human Machine Interfaces are an inevitable milestone in automobiles’ journey till now and on from here. As the number of features in a vehicle increase, accessing these features through conventional interfaces becomes challenging as well as distracting. HMIs do the primary job of letting a driver do more with their vehicles while ensuring minimum distraction from driving. Globally HMIs are already finding more and more use in vehicles to enhance user experience and safety. In India, some HMI features, such as a touchscreen are now common in most of the vehicles whereas manufacturers like Kia, Hyundai and MG Motors have started offering other HMIs such as voice assistants in their recent models.
Since growth of HMIs is happening globally, penetration of human machine interfaces is bound to increase in India as well.
The Indian automotive HMI market attained a size of $466.9 million in 2017 and is forecasted to reach $1 billion by 2023, registering a CAGR of 14.1% during 2018–2023. The major factors driving the market growth are increasing passenger car sales in the country, rising in-vehicle connectivity, and increasing demand for in-vehicle safety and comfort features.
A lot of work is also happening at technical centres in India in the domain of HMIs for the global markets. In this article, we take a look at the status quo of HMI technologies in India.
Human Machine Interfaces available in automobiles in the Indian Market
For convenience, we have segregated HMI features in the following four categories: Infotainment screens and heads up displays, in car voice assistants, gesture controls, smart surfaces and haptics.
If we look at which of these technologies are deployed in the Indian market, we realise that the Indian HMI market has started developing very recently. While touchscreens are a very common feature, Kia Seltos is also equipped with 8” heads up display. Hyundai Venue and MG Vector are equipped with online voice recognition system. Hyundai Venue offers 33 connected features which can be accessed through human machine interface.
As per a survey conducted by Capgemini, 95% of the consumers expect to be using a conversational assistant, including a voice assistant in the car to access information, 54% of them ‘all the time’. The same study also revealed that 68% of the consumers are willing to pay a premium for voice assistants whereas 29% said they would do so in near future.
As the Capgemini study highlights, the Indian market is mature enough to pay for HMI features in their vehicles and this might lead to faster more HMI features in the upcoming cars in the Indian market. In a press statement, Dr. Frank Rabe, Head – Business Unit Instrumentation and Driver HMI at Continental AG hinted at an increased demand for bigger touch-screen from India.
“We might see a strong demand coming in for different display solutions from the Indian market over the next two to three years,” he said.
Pratap Bose, VP, Global Design, Tata Motors in a recent press statement to Times Drive highlighted that because of COVID-19, gesture controls and voice command will become more of a necessity. “Even though touchscreen systems are still a novelty and an aspirational feature for customers, there seems a possibility that they could soon be surpassed by the more advanced infotainment systems”, he said.
Development of Human Machine Interface Related Technologies in India
Tata Elxsi: Tata Elxsi already has an offering – TeCockpit which is an integrated solution with infotainment, instrument cluster, heads-up display and Advanced Driver Assistance features working from a single system on a chip. In a press interview, Anil Sondur, VP, Transportation Business Unit at Tata Elxsi, one of the things currently being worked on by Tata Elxsi is creating an independent layer of HMI – abstraction layer, where the HMI can become independent of the rest of the technology or the hardware and software system within the vehicle. This approach allows OEMs to build HMIs independently and maintain usability while being able to add new features quickly. Tata Elxsi is also carrying out consumer insight studies, ergonomic studies and observation techniques as to how people use the HMI to develop India specific HMIs.
Tata Elxsi has also carried out lot of development work in voice technologies. “All these developments have happened in the last couple of years and therefore, voice is becoming a very important feature of interaction with HMI, of the HMI feature in the vehicle”, said Sondur. He also hinted that gesture is going to be an important HMI feature within next few years. Displays with 3D capabilities will be the number one change.
Harman: Maruti Suzuki has collaboration with Harman Audio. Harman is working with Maruti Suzuki in a collaboration to equip many of the company’s vehicles with its infotainment and connectivity solutions. This move by India’s largest automaker is likely to encourage other carmakers to follow suit and offer connected technology on their vehicles as well. Harman already works with automakers like Tata Motors and Volkswagen India. The company, with its recent contract with MSIL, is now eyeing a 56-57 per cent market share for total infotainment systems sold in India by 2021. To achieve this, the company has invested ₹350 crore in its manufacturing plant at Pune.
Bosch India: Bosch also has one of its largest research and development facility in India. Bosch has numerous HMI projects and offerings under its umbrella. Bosch’s HMI solution enables controlling various car functions by simple eye movements and gestures. Bosch HMI can be controlled by natural language and also respondents through an audio response. Bosch has also incorporated haptics in their displays.
Continental AG: Continental has one of the largest research and development facility in India. As per an official statement from the company, the company has sensed the need of cost effectiveness for tapping into the emerging markets such as India and says that it is not necessarily working on country-specific solutions as the need for cost efficiency is seen in other regions around the world, for instance in Brazil as well. Continental’s HMI solution are being developed in CUbE – a development platform for autonomous technologies.
Mercedes Benz: MBUX, an infotainment system from Mercedes Benz, which is now a standard feature on all S Class vehicles, makes use of gesture controls. According to a media report, the system has been fully developed (conceptualisation to production stage) by Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India (MBRDI) in Bangalore. This feature allows carrying out a large number of activities such as turning on passenger side lamps, controlling media, activating seat massage function etc. Mercedes Benz is planning to introduce these features in other line-ups as well.
3M India: 3M India has developed an array of optical films which can be used in head-up displays to provide optimum visibility in different lighting conditions. These films also offer wider angle of visibility and reduce the energy consumption. 3M also has display films which can amplify and recycle light in information displays which increases their usability and energy efficiency. 3M also has reflective polarising films which are critical for eMirror applications to switch between a passive mirror state and electrified backlight state.
Cerence: Cerence is working on developing voice assistants specifically for the Indian market. The company has put to use AI, machine learning and natural language understanding capabilities to develop a Hindi voice assistant. The company will also be working on developing voice assistants in the other regional languages. Cerence has set up an R&D facility as wells a tuning lab in Pune.
Valeo: Valeo has been working on head-up displays as well as multi-function touch screens which integrate all display system types. The company is also working on capacitive proximity sensors and infrared movement detection for gesture control.
We can observe that as regards HMIs are concerned, a lot of ground work has already happened and many OEMS and tech developers are working towards optimising their solution for the Indian market. With increasing willingness from Indian customers for HMI features, India will soon see many more HMI features in cars across multiple segments.
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