With a multitude of infotainment system options currently on the market, and more coming soon, ensuring that these systems perform as intended in the vehicle prior to release is of utmost importance for automakers.
“There is a big debate about functionality and quality of infotainment systems in new vehicles,” said Joachim Wolschendorf, CEO, DGE Inc., a subsidiary of FEV North America Inc. “Typically these infotainment systems have a completely different development time cycle than the powertrain or vehicle, for example. It’s absolutely crucial to increase the quality of the device before it’s out in production.”
DGE has responded to the industry need for an automated test capability by introducing the HMIts (Human Machine Interface Test System), which simulates a user’s speech and touch and then validates the response of the infotainment system. The HMIts enables OEMs and Tier suppliers to perform repetitive testing on any HMI/infotainment system in a controlled environment, ensuring accurate results and eliminating the need for time-consuming and labor-intensive manual test plans.
HMIts will be demonstrated in the FEV booth (603) at the SAE 2014 World Congress April 8-10 in Detroit.
“Today, head units, infotainment systems, and clusters are mostly tested by engineers sitting in a room and manually pressing buttons and going through a test procedure,” said Stephan Tarnutzer, Chief Operating Officer, DGE. “There is very little repeatability, very little consistency, and it’s a very monotonous task that no matter where you do it the engineer gets tired, starts making mistakes, and doesn’t do the same thing the same way every single time it goes through a test iteration. With the HMIts, a test plan can be set up that allows you to set pass and fail criteria and then allows you to run the system however many times you want with a variety of different test scenarios that you pick and choose. At the end, it gives you a test report, and you’re assured that it’s done the exact same way every time and you have repeatability and a lot of data at your disposal to analyze the root cause without having to try and re-create what happened.”
Featuring a GUI and standardized test script builder, the HMIts is fully automated and does not require any software to be resident on the device under test.
“There is no need for us to put software onto that unit,” Tarnutzer said. “That’s key because you do not want to put anything onto the device under test that in any way, shape, or form would modify or impact the software that is running."
HMIts interacts with the target device using prerecorded audio, speech to text, text to speech, video, and touch-screen interfaces. Physical touch is simulated in one of two ways, Tarnutzer explained.
“If the head-unit supplier or OEM puts in a debug port or gives us access through the CAN bus or through another communication method to control the touch screen, we use that. If we do not have that ability, we tap into the line between the physical touch screen and the micro that detects where your finger touches the screen. We simulate the coordinates on the screen where somebody touches it and feed that into the microcontroller that detects that, and hence circumvent a physical touch.”
According to DGE, test times can be reduced by as much as 67% and ROI can be achieved in less than five months with use of the system.
“If you take the example of an update for a navigation screen after the initial software release; in the past, you probably tested this with two test engineers, maybe for a week,” Tarnutzer said. “Now with the HMIts, you can test that possibly in one day of setting up the test and maybe then one day of running it and get the consistency out of it.”