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    Next-Generation Electric Vehicles Deserve Next-Generation Control Interfaces

    Yan Goh, Microchip

    As vehicles evolve, so do the way drivers interact with them.

    Next-Generation Electric Vehicles

    The next generation of automobiles may physically resemble those we drive today, but their underlying technology will be unrecognizable. Electric powertrains will replace internal combustion engines, and cars will be increasingly autonomous as more advanced driver assistance systems are added to improve the safety of occupants. These new technologies also present a timely opportunity for car manufacturers to rethink how these drive assistance systems can be controlled. Emerging trends in this area indicate how car manufacturers can quickly bring these impressive features to their new vehicle designs.

    Next-Generation Control Interfaces

    Mechanical rotary and push button switches have long been the mainstay for controlling vehicle subsystems. However, customers now have higher expectations of their vehicles than ever before, which also includes how they interface with the vehicle. To meet the driver’s higher expectations of better visuals, car manufacturers are pushing the boundary even further to achieve tablet or home entertainment-like displays within the car cockpit. High resolution LCDs up to OLED type, which enable brilliant deep black and improve contrast and readability, are being introduced in many high-end vehicles. Furthermore, the total display area within the cockpit is being stretched wide and thin to enable cluster and passenger side displays that are integrated into a wide display system.

    With the addition of the wide displays within the car, most drivers will need a system that makes their driving experience easier and can support their favorite smartphone apps to fully take advantage of these displays. HMI (Human-Machine Interface) solutions for automobiles are features of car hardware and software that allow drivers and passengers to interact with the vehicle and the external environment. Automotive HMI solutions enhance driving experiences by allowing occupants to interact with multi-touch dashboards, voice-enabled infotainment systems, built-in screens and control panels. Functionally safe, ISO 26262 compliant HMI systems powered by embedded sensors and intelligent controls enable vehicles to respond quickly and safely to the driver’s commands while accommodating their personal preferences. Allied Market Research projects that the global automotive HMI market will grow at a rate of almost 10% per year to reach $33.59 billion by 2025. Some examples of applications that utilize the latest automotive HMI features include:

    • Digital instrument clusters
    • Rear-seat entertainment
    • Head-up displays
    • Gesture recognition
    • Steering wheel hands-on detection

    Ready-to-Go HMI Solutions

    Car manufacturers are already struggling with how to deal with new technologies behind vehicle electrification and autonomous driving advancements, even without having to deal with the complexities of implementing these new HMI features. They need proven solutions that they can easily integrate into their vehicles and provide the performance, reliability and safety levels they need. Microchip is at the vanguard of providing electronic automotive HMI solutions to replace mechanical rotary switches and knobs. We are the only supplier that provides solutions to support all possible HMI requirements in automotive with our unique microcontroller proposition to support button, gesture and capacitive force implementations.

    Innovative HMI touch solutions:

    • The maXTouch family that supports a range of sizes from miniature touchpads to over 40” widescreen applications.
    • The maXTouch Knob-on-Display (KoD) Touch Controller Family, where a traditional knob can even be implemented on a capacitive touchscreen display.
    • The GestIC technology, enabling touch-free operation that can detect a hand gesture from a distance of up to 10 cm.

    Enabling Next-Generation HMI

    Microchip’s solutions enable automotive interior designers to move their next-generation HMI systems from conceptual ideas to production reality. We provide a full suite of hardware and software solutions, including an integrated development environment (IDE) to reduce development time and accelerate market introduction. Visit our touch and gesture HMI solutions page to learn more.

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