The interiors of two production vehicles were stripped out so that specialists from Visteon and 3M could fashion new interiors featuring in-development, production-ready technologies from the two suppliers.
“Two vehicles have been developed—one for North America and one for Europe—with similar technologies but different styling on each,” said Joe Stroh, Business Development Manager for 3M Automotive Division. Visteon and 3M employees from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Japan participated.
In an interior that showcases more than 40 features, the center panel on the North American demonstration concept is a primary focal point. “The field-effect sensors, capacitive proximity sensors, and the haptic actuators are attached to an acrylic substrate. A polycarbonate appliqué for the graphics was applied to the substrate using 3M adhesives,” Ian Foslien, Innovation Project Manager for Visteon, said.
Field-effect switches provide a “dead-front” look when the center panel buttons do not need to be visible. However, when a user’s hand nears the panel, the vehicle senses it and the buttons automatically illuminate to show a human-machine interface (HMI), according to Michael Tschirhart, Design Manager of Advanced Human-Machine Interfaces at Visteon.
A top-down cascade design defines the integrated center panel. Pressing one of the top row’s buttons selects a specific mode, such as audio, climate, or navigation. Buttons on the second row then configure automatically to a set of functions matching the chosen mode. “By using this approach, the HMI allows most functions to be accessed in two button presses or fewer,” said Tschirhart.
The three-dimensional driver information cluster on the North American demonstration vehicle uses a standard display with an LED backlight. “The addition of a 3M optical film in the backlight creates the magic,” said Jennifer Yi, Product Development Specialist in 3M’s Display and Graphics Business Lab. Production-available in 2011, the driver information center has “2-D zones [the gauges] and a 3-D zone [center navigation] all within a single panel versus multiple panels. Therefore, the driver can easily experience 2-D information and 3-D information from a single display,” she explained.
Compared to traditional vehicle interiors, the Visteon-3M demonstration North American vehicle reduces the overall button count by nearly 40, according to Gary Jakobcic, Visteon Product Design Engineer. About 30 haptic-touch buttons and one HMI knob are used. The user gets tactile, audible, and visual confirmation that a button press has occurred.
“In addition to fewer buttons, this design can also keep many buttons ‘hidden’ from the driver until needed. This technology enables a much lower number of buttons to be presented to the user at any one time, thus further reducing confusion and cognitive overload,” Jakobcic added.
An augmented-reality display, projected directly onto the windshield glass using a laser-based system, can provide instrument cluster, radio, navigation, night vision, and other information on the North American demonstration vehicle. For instance, navigation via augmented reality would mean an overlay on the glass such as a line “or some other visual representation that shows the driver exactly where to drive. Your immediate drive path could be shown on the glass with the designated road, exit, and turn highlighted in red, blue, or some other color. This overlay would be 1:1 scale with the driver’s view out of the glass,” noted Upton Bowden, Visteon Electronics Marketing Manager.
Two HVAC systems—a straight-airflow-path one that delivers high airflow from a compact package with low noise, and a flat auxiliary unit—are on the demonstration vehicle for North America. “The flat auxiliary HVAC could be packaged in the quarter trim similar to today’s designs, or under the floor like in the 3M-Visteon demonstration vehicle application,” said Wayne Schnaidt, Visteon Climate Control Manager. “By using the flat HVAC, we change the aspect ratio of the unit, providing a thinner [flat] package, which allows for an under-floor mount.”
Wireless charging for mobile devices is another featured technology on the North American demonstration vehicle. “Visteon is focused on wireless charging via inductive coupling, which is similar technology to the wireless toothbrushes that are already on the market. In this case, the device is outfitted with a charging coil and some electronics that allow it to harness energy from the charging pad’s own charging coil,” explained Nazih Hijaouy, Wireless Charging Product Segment Manager at Visteon.