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In-car info overload raises concern over driver distraction

Posted: 10 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:driver distraction? in-car infotainment? Smartphones?

The widespread demand for smartphones has led to various functionalities to be present inside cars. Touchscreens and large displays have become a commodity in the auto infotainment industry. As vehicles become more heavily reliant on sophisticated forms of technology, the requirements for onboard information displays are becoming increasingly comprehensive and diverse. A recent study from Frost & Sullivan has concluded that driver distraction currently poses design challenges.

The study entitled "Strategic Analysis of European and North American Markets for Display and Instrument Clusters", found that the European market size for central displays, touchscreens and head up displays is estimated to reach 9.5 million, 2 million and 0.5 million units, respectively, by 2017. On the other hand, the North American market size for central displays, touchscreens and head up displays is anticipated to reach 6 million, 3 million and 0.4 million units, respectively, during the same year.

Research analyst Krishna Jayaraman stated that the availability of Internet connectivity has led to the proliferation of various web services, Smartphone applications and entertainment-related functions inside vehicles. This has led to the need for large and intelligent information display systems, which could house all information content.

Growing consumer demand for in-vehicle information related to comfort, convenience and safety has also led to an information overload. It has caused new technologies to be further developed as well as the need for bigger displays to show the information created by these technologies.

Jayaraman further stated that information management poses a big challenge and it is closely related to driver distraction. Automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are in a situation where they have to achieve a balance between offering new technologies to stay ahead of the competition and keeping the human machine interface (HMI) as easy as possible. These OEMs currently focus their efforts on prioritization and splitting information to different in-vehicle displays.

Driver distraction, fueled by information overload, highlights the need for HMI solutions which not only store additional information, but also limit the amount of information projected to the driver by prioritizing it. With driver distraction being caused by the overload of information, HMI solutions not only need to address demands of additional information storage, but also the capability to limit and prioritize the amount of information projected to the driver.

There is an increased need for large central displays to house more information. However, multimodality of input interfaces alone will not help; information will have to be split to different display options, according to priority.

Jayaraman further suggested that functions which are vehicle-specific and necessary while driving should be projected on the head up displays and instrument cluster, while other entertainment features can reside on central displays. He also believed that restricting the freedom to access web-based content to be crucial.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
??EETimes Europe

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