The level of distraction caused by the
operation of an infotainment system is a critical element to be considered in
its design and implementation. There has been growing interest in levels of
distraction caused by mobile devices in the car and more recently by in-car
infotainment systems. SBD does not expect this trend to diminish, indeed it is
more likely to gain a larger focus from legislative bodies on a global scale.
As the ability and resulting complexity of
systems has continued to grow, it might have been expected that today's
dashboards would have been completely covered in buttons and controls. In fact,
modern dashboards (the Tesla Model 3 being an extreme example) have
significantly fewer physical controls than perhaps any car in the last hundred
years. As technology has become increasingly digitised, hard buttons, switches
and rotaries have all migrated to the infotainment system. While this provides
a minimalistic, uncluttered and streamlined cockpit, it also removes the
physical cues which make it easy to operate a control by touch alone.
Functionality ends up being hidden in complex menu structures and the resulting
interface calls for the driver to take their eyes off the road for longer
intervals to be able to operate their car effectively.
Haptic feedback is a start in providing the
user with a sensory feedback channel for their inputs. In the future, 3D screen
surfaces such as Continental’s may be able to mimic physical buttons and provide hints to the user to help
them with blind input. Other technologies such as holographic projection with air
jets to simulate pressure are also being developed.
As voice recognition and personal
assistants with natural speech functionality become more commonplace in the
automotive environment, SBD believes that a large proportion of infotainment
control will naturally move to this interface. Google Assistant is currently
the most advanced personal assistant, and by 2020 it will begin to appear
embedded in the car. This year has seen MBUX
with Hey Mercedes, the first truly conversation automotive assistant, although
even then, its capabilities still have significant limits and some failings
such as asking the user to look at the screen to confirm a command.
Returning to technology available today, the
most significant cause of distraction is often cited as mobile devices. Safely
replacing core functionality within the infotainment system is an important
target for manufacturers, with the aim being to handle text messaging, phone
calls, media control and navigation with the lowest possible level of
SBD conducts driver distraction testing as
a part of our UX evaluations, taking into account the three most significant
elements of driver distraction: cognitive, visual and manual. Testing is
carried out in a real-life environment: mainly on dual-carriageway A-roads, but
also some motorways and urban environments. Although sophisticated test rigs
are available and allow for a fully controlled environment, SBD believes it is
very important to carry out testing in real-life situations as it is never fully
possible to simulate the degree of attention required in real-life scenarios.
This level of attention also has a significant effect on the cognitive load
placed on the driver which can turn relatively trivial tasks into complex ones.
top 10 ways to reduce driver distraction
1. Effective head up display
2. Effective voice recognition
3. Central screen as close to the natural eye-line as possible
4. Clear, well-sized content on displays
5. Flat, logical information architecture
6. Permanent links to core functionality
7. Consistency throughout system
8. Clear verbal and on-screen navigation instructions
9. Simple, logical inputs (touchscreen, touchpads, rotaries, steering wheel controls) with effective actions and feedback
10. Contextual (time, location, event etc.) prioritisation of information together with removal of less relevant information
Author: Adam Jefferson, Connected
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