Large touch screens will be the key to safety in the car

Large touch screens will be the key to safety in the car

April 17, 2020 0 By autotimesnews

Security issues in automotive touchscreens give rise to new developments.

It is difficult to find a new car with a dashboard, which is not dominated by a large infotainment touch screen – increasingly due to physical buttons and dials. Tesla may still be the most extreme supporter, but this trend is reflected throughout the industry.

The increase in the size of touch screens is directly related to their growing use in all areas of society. Melanie Limmer, head of the electronics department of the new Audi A3, said the decision to remove some physical buttons from this car was due to the fact that “more and more people are starting to use the functions of smartphones.”

Despite the fact that many automotive infotainment screens also retain physical control, the growing number of touch-only interfaces raises questions about how safe they are. There are fears that large screens can be distracting and that without a tactile response from a physical button, to make sure users choose the right option, drivers are more likely to be distracted from the road to drive them.

However, increasing the size of touch screens is an incentive for safety, according to Matthew Avery, research director at the leading British car safety organization Thatcham Research.

    “Large infotainment screens are not necessarily a problem because they allow large icons and less information-rich displays,” he said. “Small screens with awkward icons are a big concern.”

Avery also said that delaying such systems is crucial: “Screens should respond to touch the way you expect from a smartphone. The clarity and commonality of the user interface on vehicles is also fundamental, allowing drivers to quickly recognize the icon they are about to press. ”

Avery refers to the mirroring systems of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphones, since they work the same for all car models. They also replace the need for drivers to use smartphones while driving.

The British government is currently working to eliminate loopholes that have allowed some drivers to avoid fines for using smartphones for functions other than making phone calls while driving.

But some of the same concerns about such distractions may relate to touch screens. Highways England boss Jim O’Sullivan said: “We don’t like them in terms of security.” But touch screens in cars and smartphones, of course, are not directly comparable. When considering additional restrictions on the use of a mobile phone while driving, the Transport Selection Committee ruled out a ban on hands-free calling. And this is despite the studies suggesting that the risks are largely related to the cognitive requirements that they impose on the driver, “interacting with someone who is not in their common environment”, and not with the actual operation of the smartphone.

For those involved in the development of touch screens, systems are not just designed on smartphones: they are a way to complement them.

    “Security comes in many forms,” said Harris Ramis of Google, working on a new Android touchscreen operating system, a version of which will be used on all future Volvo and Polestar models. “Today, people pull out their phones and use them while driving, so when we started thinking about security, we did it in terms of ensuring that they had access to the services they need that are designed for use in the car to guarantee they leave their phones where they should be. ”

Ramis called this approach “optimized driver distraction.” In essence, this is a recognition that people want to use the phone system or music services on their smartphones, and look for ways to offer it as safely as possible using the car’s infotainment system. “We spent a lot of time to make sure that the system is designed to be used while driving, so it’s not distracting,” Ramis said.

To ensure that the new Volvo Android system – which will be introduced for the first time on the upcoming XC40 Recharge P8 EV – is a fixed template design with basic controls that need to be in the same place in all applications to ensure users get to know each other. This even applies to third-party applications that will be offered on Android systems.

Another key feature offered by the new Volvo system is voice control, the expansion of which can eliminate the need for a touch screen or any physical controls. For many years, the voice control system has been widely used in all car brands. Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz and BMW offer their own versions.

Odgard Andersson, Volvo’s digital executive, said: “Voice commands make sense when you’re driving.” Avery from Thatcham agreed: “It provides clear benefits by allowing the driver to keep an eye on the road.”

But he also noted that such functions are often created several years before the model takes effect, and therefore are behind the development curve of [Apple] Siri or [Amazon] Alexa. Where voice control cannot recognize what the driver is saying, the safety benefits are lost.

Andersson said access to the Google Assistant voice control is “the key thing that really excites us” in the partnership.

The Google system is constantly evolving based on real reviews about its use in other functions of the smartphone and electronics and works in several languages ​​and with accents. Andersson said that “now it is much higher than everything that is in any car.” He added: “This allows you to speak in a more natural way, which from our point of view is a security function.”

The hope is that such improvements can defeat people, but voice control will convince them. But it is also a matter of choice: to provide drivers with several ways to drive, so that they can use what is more convenient for them – which is likely to be the safest. It can be seen from any concept car that touch screens will increasingly dominate driving. This reflects demand. The main thing is that technological developments make them even safer.