Mitsubishi Electric shows new FLEXConnect technologies

  • 09-Jun-2015 12:42 EDT
Mitsubishi Electric FLEXConnect.IVI. Head Unit.jpg

Mitsubishi Electric's FLEXConnect.IVI enables center console content to be moved to the gauge cluster or heads-up display by touching the screen, then swiping with a hand gesture. The demonstration car (shown) has a 12.1-in center panel touchscreen, a 12.3-in instrument cluster, and a head-up display.

Hand gesture transfer of information from the center console screen to the head-up display or instrument cluster display is a featured capability in a Mitsubishi Electric demonstration vehicle.

“The FLEXConnect In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system could reach production application as early as the 2017 model year. We already have business in place for certain aspects of the system,” said Doug Ray, Mitsubishi Electric’s Director of Sales, Quality and Engineering for Audio, Video & Communications, in an Automotive Engineering interview.

This next-generation technology as well as the supplier’s advanced active noise cancellation (ANC) system were shown to the media during a May 18 event in Berkley, MI.

A luxury sedan retrofitted with the FLEXConnect.IVI employs an Google Android operating system and a 12.1-in, 1280 x 800 resolution center console touchscreen. The user can access as many as three portals (navigation, media, and climate) via a full-screen, a half-screen, or a one-third screen on the center console, said Gareth Williams, Strategic Technologies Manager for Audio, Video & Communications at Mitsubishi Electric.

“If you want to move content from the center console to the gauge cluster or head-up display, you touch the screen, then swipe. A swipe-left gets content from the center stack to the cluster. A swipe-right takes it from the cluster back to the center stack. A swipe-up takes content to the head-up display, and a swipe-down takes it from the head-up display to the center stack,” Williams explained.

The three in-cabin displays are powered by a single Texas Instruments Jacinto 6 automotive processor. “That same processor is going into production this year,” said Williams.

Like Apple iPads and other tablets, the center console display is an in-plane switching (IPS) screen. “We feel that you get really good color off-axis with this display, and for the in-vehicle environment that’s really important,” said Williams.

Center console display content can be moved to the cluster display or the head-up display by the driver or the front passenger. “There are different ways to prevent the passenger from moving content, such as having infrared sensors around the display to detect if the swipe is coming from the passenger. But we haven’t addressed that issue on this demonstration vehicle,” said Williams.

The ability for either front seat occupant to interact with display content is especially relevant on an autonomous vehicle application.

“Even if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, you become a passenger in an autonomous vehicle. Going forward, we see a blending of functionality where both front-seat passengers can interact with audio, HVAC, and other in-vehicle controls,” Williams said.

Mitsubishi Electric also demonstrated its FLEXConnect.ANC. The system uses Mentor Graphics’ electronic noise cancellation software, according to Ray. “In the demonstration hybrid-electric car, the system can cancel unwanted engine whine,” said Ray, ”Using the wide-band ANC also makes it possible to cancel in real time road and other unwanted noise.”

According to Williams, the advanced ANC technology addresses unwanted sub-500 Hz noise.

Mitsubishi Electric introduced its FLEXConnect series in 2014 with rear-seat entertainment. The production-ready FLEXConnect.RSE infotainment system features three rear-seat screens that allow the user to stream multiple contents while operating as independent units controlled through the Ethernet audio-video bridging architecture.

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