Rightware was recently invited to attend the launch event for the second generation Porsche Panamera in Helsinki, Finland. The event was held at Konepaja, an old train repair and manufacturing plant where the majority of Finnish train carriages and locomotives were built during 1903-2001. Nowadays a bustling hub of flea markets, concerts and cafes, the venue breathes history and technology.
The Panamera is Porsche’s 4-door luxury sedan. Originally launched in 2009 and receiving a facelift in 2013, the second generation in 2016 brings with it a variety of updates. The new model comes with VW Group’s MSB (Modularer Standard-Baukasten, or modular standard architecture) architecture, new powertrains, updates in exterior and interior design and renewed cockpit technology. Both the Turbo and 4S models were on show in Helsinki.
For us what is most interesting about the new Panamera is the new digital dashboard, with a hybrid instrument cluster and a widescreen 12-inch infotainment system.
In the instrument cluster, the driver can find a physical tachometer with a small digital display at the bottom. Surrounding the tachometer are two 7-inch digital screens which can be customized by the driver to show e.g. lap times or navigation.
The Porsche Panamera is also covered in our Digital Cockpit Review.
Porsche calls the infotainment system “PCM” (Porsche Communication Management). This is a 12-inch panel which can be controlled via touch or with certain dedicated buttons on the center console. The system features a nice mix of 2D and 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop HMI concept where customizing the UI is easy. The system felt fast and responsive and will provide access to a variety of connected car services from Porsche.
We like how Porsche has designed the digital screens in the new car to blend in with the exterior and interior of the car, having the same quality look-and-feel. We look forward to seeing what Porsche will be able to do in future cars.
Thanks to Porsche Finland for inviting us over to the event.
WardsAuto has named the 2017 Audi Q7 among their prestigious list of Top 10 Best User Experiences.
Wards cites the “mesmerizing” Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster and the “intuitive” MMI infotainment system as key factors behind Audi’s “first-rate” user experience. Both user interfaces have been created using Rightware Kanzi.
“One of our judging criteria recognizes a user experience that delivers ‘surprise and delight’ to the driver, and the Audi Q7 does that many times over,” said WardsAuto Senior Editor, Tom Murphy. “From the high-resolution, brightly colored graphics in the Audi virtual cockpit to the simple phone pairing and the available driver assistance systems, the Q7 makes for a first-rate, intuitive user experience.”
WardsAuto editors evaluated vehicles based on the overall effectiveness of the user experience, how easily the car connects with a compatible smartphone, user-friendliness of the controls, the availability of the advanced driver assistance technology, and how appealing the materials are as a component of the user experience.
Audi will formally receive the award during a ceremony held at the WardsAuto User Experience Conference, taking place October 4, 2016 in Novi, Michigan.
The Q7 was the second Audi model to feature with the Virtual Cockpit, and thanks to its popularity among customers, the digital dashboard can now be found in all car segments at Audi.
Karma Automotive has launched its new luxury plug-in hybrid, the Karma Revero. Here are 5 details you should know about the new car.
1. 0-60 in 5.4 Seconds
Thanks to a 260-horsepower, turbocharged General Motors gasoline engine boosted by two electric motors, the Revero does 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds in Sport mode.
2. Always-on Connectivity
The Revero will be equipped with 4G connectivity, providing the driver with up-to-date maps and real-time traffic info as well as OTA updates.
3. Cutting-Edge Digital Cockpit
The Revero will feature a digital cockpit powered by Rightware Kanzi. The instrument cluster replaces traditional gauges with a fully digital screen, similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The center console includes a high resolution infotainment system that provides intuitive and easy access to car controls and infotainment functions.
4. Powered by the Sun
The solar roof in the Revero provides extra power for the car’s electronics and can even extend the electrical range.
5. You can order it today.
Contact a Karma dealer near you, or make your order online at the end of September 2016.
The Karma Revero is our # 3 of 5 interesting dashboards in the Digital Cockpit Review.
In this post we take a look at interesting recent “digital cockpits” – a selection of cars where digital design and technology are being brought together to provide digital user experiences in the dashboard.
What are your favorite digital cockpits? Let us know in the comments.
Included in the post:
1. Porsche Panamera (2017)
The second generation Porsche Panamera sports an instrument cluster that combines physical and digital design. The physical tachometer in the middle (influenced by the 1955 Porsche 356 “Speedster”) is surrounded by two 7” digital displays that can be configured to suit the driver’s preferences.
The new Panamera also comes with Porsche Communication Management – a widescreen 12.3” infotainment system that is fully integrated into the dashboard surface, providing the driver with access to a variety of apps and connected services through Porsche’s Connect platform.
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2017-porsche-panamera/ (CNET Test Drive)
See it in Action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmnxVIRy7lY (In-depth test in English by Autogefühl)
2. Audi A4 (2017)
The digital cockpit in the 2017 Audi A4 sports the latest version of Audi’s fully digital instrument cluster – the Virtual Cockpit. With a variety of modes and user preferences, the display can be configured to suit any driving situation. Virtual Cockpit runs at a rock-solid 60 frames per second and combines beautiful 2D and 3D graphics.
- Watch video: How Audi creates their Digital User Experiences
Also found on the 2017 A4 is Audi’s MMI infotainment system which provides convenient access to vehicle controls, media, maps and Audi’s connected car services. The MMI system is easily controllable via jog-wheel or swipe-gesture touchpad.
Audi uses Rightware Kanzi for creating the Virtual Cockpit and the Audi MMI infotainment system.
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2017-audi-a4/ (Test Drive by Chris Paukert / CNET)
See it in Action:
http://www.rightware.com/how-audi-creates-digital-ux/ Interview with Matthias Halliger, architect for the digital cockpit in the Audi A4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx7Ks4DlBfQ (Technology Test Drive by Alaatin61/YouTube)
3. Karma Revero (2017)
Karma Automotive have revealed the Revero, their new luxury plug-in hybrid. While the new car shares design with the old Fisker Karma, it’s got a bunch of new tricks up its sleeve, including a new drivetrain from BMW and a completely modernized digital cockpit. The car will be publicly launched in September.
Behind the wheel is a digital instrument cluster with stylish graphics. In the center console sits an infotainment system which Karma describes as “intuitive” and that it “doesn’t require a user manual to operate”. Both screens have a unified visual feel and design.
Both screens are powered by Rightware Kanzi.
http://www.karmaautomotive.com/revero/ (Teaser site)
See it in Action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKP0bJsBNes (Teaser video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3H3rJ3jDqQ (First Drive by Wired)
4. Lincoln Continental (2017)
Lincoln’s 2017 update of their iconic luxury sedan will be equipped with a digital instrument cluster and an infotainment system, with digital designs consistent with the quality and look-and-feel of the luxurious interior.
Behind the wheel the driver can enjoy a configurable 12.3” digital instrument cluster, which Lincoln calls the Driver Information Center.
In the center console, the infotainment system (powered by Ford SYNC 3) provides a convenient gateway to Ford’s connected services, car settings such as HVAC controls as well as various apps.
See it in Action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic4k6oljIJw (In-Depth Preview by Eric Max/YouTube)
5. Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE
With the T-Prime Concept GTE, demonstrated thus far in VW Touareg form, Volkswagen shows its future approach to the premium SUV segment. In the cockpit a new ”Curved Interaction Area” includes two separate user interfaces in one display landscape. Content can be moved between screens using intuitive swipe gestures.
The 12” fully digital instrument cluster which Volkswagen calls ”Active Info Display” is easy to control with the touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel.
The 15” curved infotainment system features a tile-based design for customizing the user interface. Using drag-and-drop and touch gestures the user can resize and configure the UI elements and move them to the instrument cluster with a swipe.
See it in Action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMEkO1SdV3c (In-depth look by Autogefühl/YouTube)
August 8, 2016 Interviews, Kanzi, UI Design
Picture: Dashboard in the 2017 Audi A4, including Virtual Cockpit and Audi MMI Infotainment powered by Rightware Kanzi
In the video below, Matthias Halliger, Head of Architecture for Audi MMI tells the story behind the design and engineering decisions involved in creating the graphics technology and digital design for the 2017 Audi A4.
On creating digital gauges: “When we started this concept, our design team (and our) ergonomics team decided – if you do computer graphics in the car, you have to find the same position of this well known Audi gauge with its mechanical perfection and to translate this into the digital world. I can tell you it is way easier to make any fancy computer graphics than this one.”
“We had to study all the materials, all the reflections, all the colours, the gloss and whatever parameters needed and developed a specific computer graphics library for this, to simulate the same effect. If you sit in the car and you notice nothing, we have succeeded”
Read more in Use Cases.
Video courtesy of Javier Mota / Autos 0-60
July 25, 2016 Prototyping, UI Design
Digital HMI design has become an important part of interior design for automotive brands. Car manufacturers are making the transition from the world of chrome and leather to digital design and want to make sure the HMI has the same branded look-and-feel as the rest of the interior. This means that young designers who understand both the physical and digital world will be in high demand in the future.
Rightware collaborates with a variety of schools in automotive digital design. This gives us an opportunity to coach new youth into business and to learn and get influenced by young and innovative people.
This year’s student designs varied massively in scale, from a small urban shape-changing motorcyle, through a tractor cab and 22ft boat, right up to a 2.5km long interstellar spacecraft. The show featured the first ever female Vehicle Design graduates from Finland.
The STANCE 2016 Award was given to Marjo Koivisto for her amazing client project – designing a mining vehicle, and her determination to create a large scale model for the show.
Rightware congratulates Marjo and wishes her all the best in her design career.
July 4, 2016 Kanzi, Kanzi, Prototyping, Tutorials, UI Design
Missed our most webinar on June 28th, 2016? No worries, here’s the recording.
In this webinar, you learn about how the Pages module in Kanzi makes it easy to manage complex UI designs for infotainment systems, instrument clusters and more. You’ll also see how UI Flow is controlled with pages, and how Transition animations can be easily added.
1:36 – What is Kanzi
3:59 – Trends in HMI design, implications for engineering
8:10 – What is Pages
10:30 – Demos
34:00 – Q&A
May 24, 2016 Kanzi, Press Releases
Rightware’s upcoming Kanzi Connect product has been chosen as a finalist for the 2016 TU-Automotive awards in the category “Best Telematics Product/Service”. Previewed at CES 2016, Kanzi Connect will enable automotive companies to easily plug in any data source and to seamlessly share data between digital screens in the connected car.
Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Detroit on June 7, 2016.
March 4, 2016 Engineering, Kanzi, Kanzi, Prototyping, UI Design
When creating automotive user interfaces, it’s important to do testing using realistic data and application logic – either from a simulator or from actual car electronics. You can design without data to an extent, but it’s when you get access to realistic data that you start realizing what works and what doesn’t. You start noticing things in your design – your text fields are too short, the album art and contact pictures don’t fit, your needles have noticeable aliasing artefacts when moving slowly…
In essence, you need to connect your user interface and the data and events from the car electronics, including CAN BUS, media playback, contacts and more. Traditionally automotive companies have accomplished this by writing large amounts of explicit code – ”take this data and write it into this property”. This works, but tends to take a lot of effort and is a headache to maintain. Every change in either the user interface design or the application code ends up requiring a new build, and may end up breaking the entire HMI.
With Kanzi we use a different approach, where the user interface and the application code are decoupled. Designers use Kanzi Studio to visually create user interface designs, while developers feed in data and events through the Kanzi API. Both designers and developers can work iteratively in parallel, without the risk of breaking each others’ code.
Easy Connectivity: Introducing Data Sources
With the Data Sources feature in Kanzi 3.3, we’re making it even easier to connect data with the user interface.
Instead of explicitly accessing UI properties via the API, developers can now create plug-ins for their data sources, e.g. CAN BUS, Simulink, QNX PPS files, media players and more. Each plugin provides a data object tree – a structured representation of data and events.
Image: Car simulation Data Source in Kanzi Studio
Designers then import the Data Sources plugins to Kanzi Studio, which automatically creates a visual representation of the data object tree and events provided by the Data Source. Designers can can immediately start binding the data and events into their UI elements with a simple drag-and-drop– needles, text fields, item lists, buttons etc. and seeing how the UI works with realistic data.
Image: Properties provided by a car simulation Data Source
Change Data Sources on the fly
In the HMI development process, you often start with data from a simulator and switch to real CAN BUS later when you test in the car. With Data Sources, you can dynamically switch Data Sources on the fly, with no impact on the design. As long as the developer maintains the same data object structure in the Data Sources plug-in, the connection will work.
Data Sources is available in Kanzi 3.3. Check out our archived webinar to see the feature in action:
Rightware Kanzi in the Audi Super Bowl 50 commercial
The Super Bowl has become one of the most important televised events in the United States, with Nielsen estimating that at least 114,4 million viewers tuned in for the broadcast last year. TV commercials aired during the Super Bowl have become a phenomenon, with brands investing up to $5 million per commercial to build awareness of their products. Automotive brands are no exception, and this year the Super Bowl 50 broadcast featured ads from Acura, Audi, Buick, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Mini and Toyota.
Rightware Kanzi in a Super Bowl Commercial
Audi has a history of creating brand-boosting Super Bowl commercials, with 2008’s “The Godfather” featuring an Audi R8, 2009’s “The Chase” with Jason Statham flooring it in an Audi A6, 2012’s “Vampire Party” ruined by LED headlights in 2012 and more.
For Super Bowl 50 in 2016, Audi created “Commander“, which features a retired astronaut rejuvenated by driving a 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus, which comes with Audi’s award-winning Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, which is created using Rightware Kanzi.
The first Audi with the Rightware-powered Virtual Cockpit (the Audi TT) rolled off the production line in 2014. For the 2017 Audi R8, Kanzi was used to supercharge the Virtual Cockpit with features that support high-performance driving, such as G force indicators and visual cues for shift assist.
Audi describes the Virtual Cockpit as “an Audi signature” feature, and this definitely proves it.
See the commercial:
See a video of the R8 cockpit in action:
January 22, 2016 Kanzi, Products, Prototyping, UI Design
Digital disruption has reached the automotive industry. Consumer demand is driving the rapid transition from traditional, physical dashboards with knobs and dials to digital screens and human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Meanwhile, as cars are turning into data centers, the potential for creating connected services offers car manufacturers opportunities for significant new revenue. And with access to new, agile development tools, car manufacturers are finding it easier to create compelling digital user experiences that can strengthen their brand and differentiate from competition.
In this article, Rightware lists the top 5 reasons why cars are becoming the next significant platform for digital user experiences.
1. Consumer Demand
Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to high-quality digital experiences via their mobile devices. The beautifully designed apps and services they consume on their mobile devices provide them with always-on access to their personal information. Consumers are used to constantly getting more value through regular feature updates. Car buyers are now expecting automotive companies to provide the same kind of digital experiences in a brand new vehicle.
Adding digital screens and human-machine interfaces to the interior of a car allows data from mobile devices and from the cloud to be fully integrated into the core driving experience – the manufacturers that give car buyers what they want by turning this data into personalized services that continue to improve over time will benefit from higher customer satisfaction.
IMAGE: Rightware’s ”Triton – Connected HMI” concept, seamlessly combining data from the car, the user’s personal devices and the cloud
Branding and brand image are paramount in the automotive industry. Those car manufacturers that have already succeeded in bringing branded digital user experiences into their vehicles are enjoying increased media exposure. These brands are seen as innovative and progressive, and it’s not just the automotive press that’s paying attention – the media in general are writing stories about the manufacturers that deliver a unique and well thought out digital user experience in the car.
This means that there’s currently a huge opportunity for using digital user interface elements such as high-fidelity OEM branded graphics, responsive, well-designed screens and personalized apps to build a user experience that generates buzz and positive brand association – the manufacturers that successfully use digital design to set themselves apart from their competitors will develop a loyal brand following.
IMAGE: The infotainment system on a Tesla Model S (P85D) – an iconic element of the Tesla brand
IMAGE: “Virtual Cockpit” digital instrument cluster in the Audi Q7, powered by Rightware Kanzi
“The prognosis for the installation rate for the Virtual Cockpit in the Q7 was lower from us, and now it’s gone through the roof. “
“…the Virtual Cockpit is an Audi signature now.”
– Ricky Hudi, Head of Cockpit Electronics, Audi (SOURCE)
“The (Audi) TT’s clever dash thoroughly impressed us” –Ars Technica (SOURCE)
3. Revenue Potential of Digital Services
According to BI Intelligence, there will be around 220 million connected cars on the road by 2020. And with the market for connected car services and hardware expected to grow to $152B by the same year, car manufacturers have a significant opportunity for revenue growth.
Cars are becoming data centers with each car soon having a variety of interconnected servers providing data. By turning this data into insights about key areas of the driving experience, car manufacturers can create compelling subscription-based services that car buyers are willing to pay for . These services can provide consumers with e.g. assistance and safety features as well as exciting new ways to enjoy their car through OTA updates, and provide car companies with potential for significant additional revenue streams – the manufacturers that use vehicle data to create fully-integrated digital experiences will benefit financially through service-based revenue.
IMAGE: Car diagnostics screen in a configurable digital instrument cluster by Rightware
Car manufacturers have started to provide support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the infotainment screen. Apple and Google have entered the car and it has become challenging for manufacturers to avoid offering these services because consumers already have a long history with these companies’ ecosystems.
Car companies have realized that by investing in digital design, they can provide outstanding digital user experiences and leverage the added value of deep integration with the key elements of the driving experience, they’ll be able differentiate and deliver connected car experiences to rival those of their competitors, as well as Apple and Google.
IMAGE: Apple CarPlay on an infotainment screen
5. Availability of New Automotive Development Tools
Digital screens are coming to cars at all price points. Studies show (IHS Auto Tech Report – Automotive User Interfaces – 2014) that by 2017, over 70% of new cars will ship with a digital display in the instrument cluster. The increase of digital user interfaces and their importance for the consumer is forcing car manufacturers to look for more agile and scalable ways to design and implement digital user interfaces across all vehicle segments.
In the past, manufacturers have been slow to market with their digital designs as they’ve relied on traditional software development methods with long iteration cycles. But things have changed and there are now automotive-grade user interface software solutions available that can dramatically decrease time-to-market and add agility into the development process. These solutions enable car manufacturers to:
1. Leverage a pre-built user interface framework for creating user interfaces without writing code, reducing time-to-market
2. Prototype user interfaces on actual automotive hardware, enabling faster iterations
3. Provide a common tool chain for both designers and engineers, improving collaboration in today’s distributed teams
4. Create responsive, high-fidelity branded user interfaces with seamlessly combined 2D and 3D graphics, improving the end-user experience
IMAGE: Digital instrument cluster in the QNX Technology Concept Car, a Maserati Quattroporte, created with Kanzi
Today’s average high-end car has 8 times more lines of code than a Boeing 787 – the connected car is here and the manufacturers that get the digital user experience right will be rewarded with a loyal customer base. And with the right software tools now available, the car is set to become the next digital user experience.
Olli Laiho is the Product Marketing Director for Rightware, makers of the Kanzi® HMI software.
January 4, 2016 Engineering, Kanzi, Kanzi, Prototyping
The Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is becoming standard not only in premium cars, but in all car segments. While infotainment screens in the center console have long been a staple, studies show* that in 2017, 80% of cars will ship with a digital screen in the instrument cluster. Car manufacturers are working to achieve a common branded look-and-feel across all of their car segments. (* IHS: “Automotive User Interfaces”, Nov 2014)
Kanzi has been shipping in automotive since 2012. Today we’ve made a major announcement about a new extension to our Kanzi product, titled Kanzi Lite, which extends the capabilities of Kanzi to all car segments – from volume models to premium models. In this post, we’ll talk about the challenges in creating HMIs for various car segments.
One of the key challenges in creating HMIs for cars is the difference in hardware and software platforms across segments and price ranges.
With mid-and high-end car models that have large infotainment screens and high-definition digital instrument clusters, the manufacturer can choose to go with an automotive System-on-a-Chip (SoC), sporting a dedicated GPU and plenty of system resources (including RAM and ROM memory). With support for the OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics API, these platforms enable designers and engineers to produce great-looking real-time graphical user interfaces using a tool like Kanzi.
Picture: Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster in the 2015 Audi Q7, powered by Rightware Kanzi
But when car manufacturers choose the hardware for a lower-end, high-volume car model, the Bill-Of-Materials becomes increasingly more important. They still want the car to provide HMIs, both for infotainment and the instrument cluster, but with a smaller size and resolution, and with reduced functionality. Car manufacturers will then look into using a lower-cost Microcontroller unit (MCU). These units, while low in price, often lack dedicated graphics hardware, don’t support standards such as OpenGL and have significantly fewer system resources available, making them challenging to develop for. When working with a System-on-a-Chip, you may have access to 2 gigabytes of RAM, but with a microcontroller unit, you only have 2-4 megabytes of RAM at your disposal! Fitting a great-looking, responsive HMI into such a small amount of memory is a challenge.
When working with a System-on-a-Chip, you may have access to 2 gigabytes of RAM, but with a microcontroller unit, you only have 2-4 megabytes of RAM at your disposal
Picture: Hybrid instrument cluster in a 2015 Chrysler 300
In working with microcontroller units, car manufacturers have realized that developing graphics code for these units is time-consuming and error-prone, as each microcontroller family is different and requires a new code base to be developed. And as always when your development approach is based on code generation, there is a high risk of errors and a long turnaround for each iteration.
With the introduction of Kanzi Lite, we’re changing the game. We’re making our Kanzi Engine platform available across all platforms, from microcontroller units to SoCs. Car manufacturers no longer have to develop and generate user interface code for their microcontroller platforms. Instead, Kanzi Engine runs on the target hardware and provides a complete user interface framework with support for e.g. image and text rendering, layouts, bindings, animations, state managers, input and gestures. Kanzi Engine also provides developers with a robust API for connecting the user interface with the application code and underlying business logic in the vehicle. We’ve optimized the Kanzi Engine so that its footprint fits into small amounts of memory, while still leaving space for great-looking HMI designs.
After our Kanzi Engine is installed onto the platform, graphics designers can simply move their HMI design file from Kanzi Studio onto the device memory without having to generate any code.
Kanzi Lite brings the power of Kanzi to all automotive hardware platforms.
October 7, 2015 Engineering, IoT, Kanzi, Prototyping, UI Design
Guest post by Jaakko Ala-Paavola, Head of IoT Business at Espotel
IoT (the Internet of Things) is revolutionizing many traditional industries, with the connected car as a prime example. Rightware’s Kanzi technology has shown what can be done by providing intuitive and quickly understandable information to the driver. However, the automotive environment is not the only application which benefits from visualization techniques. There is a vast number of cockpits ranging from tractors to airplanes where visualization can make a huge difference, especially when combined with real-time sensor data.
Visual imaging, either video stream or rendered graphics, requires significant bandwidth to deliver. In a home or office environment this is usually not an issue. In field installations or in industrial environments however, bandwidth may be not available in sufficient amount or it is too expensive to be used. Video compression algorithms can be used up to a point, but they do not solve the whole issue.
This is an area where sensor based visualization may help in many remote control and monitoring applications. Measuring physical process, sending sensor data only, and then visualizing the data locally in the remote destination saves a lot of data transfer bandwidth. Depending on type and number of sensors, the generated real-time data flow can be much smaller than a single live video stream, even when using a low resolution.
Video streams require a refresh rate of 20Hz or more in order for the human being to feel it comfortable to watch. 10 Hz is irritating and 1 Hz is just a series of still images. Rendered visualization can provide an artificial refresh rate much higher than the actual data rate by interpolating intermediate frames. The lower the data update rate, the longer the latency in between real physical phenomena and visualization on screen. An interval of 1 sec would cause latency of almost 2 seconds, but the user still experiences smooth movements on screen.
Video: Digger IoT concept created with Rightware Kanzi
In this video, a toy digger is instrumented with a number of add-on sensors. The on-board computer transmits sensor readings to the cloud at 10 times per second by using a WiFi connection. The tablet running visualization app implemented with Kanzi receives data from the cloud with variating delay and jitter. However, movements of the digger are smooth when rendered on the screen and they occur almost in real-time.
In the industrial and infrastructure domains there are many facilities that are remote monitored and controlled, including various pumping stations, water treatment plants, and power generation units such as solar, wind and small scale bio-energy plants. Visualization of the processes of those plants can provide more intuitive and fast to understand view to the overall situation of the process that just text and numbers or video stream.
The world is full of M2M applications equipped only with a 2G cellular data connection, making streaming video impossible due to price and bandwidth limitations. Sensor data however, not only takes less bandwidth to transfer, but also has smaller memory footprint to store. This makes it possible to store historical data and re-render events when necessary, regardless of time and place.
Sensor field visualization is yet another IoT example. Let’s assume a number of sensor are distributed geographically or by other mean. Each sensor delivers a small amount of data, but all together they provide something meaningful about environmental conditions or about the assets under monitoring. It’s easy to understand visualization of such data is much more human-friendly than plain list of many numbers.
Internet of Things is here and now, 3D visualization makes it richer. Now innovators wanted!
The writer is Head of IoT Business former CTO of Espotel, the leading IoT integrator in the Nordics. Espotel provides product development and end-to-end IoT solutions to various businesses, including industrial, medical, defense and telecommunication sectors. Visit Jaakko’s blog here.
September 23, 2015 Engineering, Kanzi, Performance
In this video and article, we discuss the challenge of balancing between graphical performance and visual quality in automotive user interfaces.
Progressive Rendering in Rightware Kanzi
Visual quality in graphics is paramount in the automotive industry. Car makers want the digital user experience in the cockpit to have the same brand quality as the rest of the vehicle. There is however another, even more important part in the equation, which is graphical performance. Especially in the instrument cluster it’s essential for your user interface to maintain a high framerate (usually 60 frames per second) – due to both safety reasons and driver expectations.
Every automotive hardware platform has its limits, and car makers tend to find that in order to increase performance on the hardware they’ve selected, they need to reduce the visual quality and vice versa. Quite often, the user interface ends up looking like a watered-down version of what the designers intended it to look.
Here at Rightware, we wanted to make it possible to maintain a high framerate without significantly reducing graphical quality. To explain what we did, let’s first talk graphics:
In order to run graphics at 60 frames per second, you need hardware that can calculate and draw every on-screen element in under 16.6 milliseconds (1000ms / 60 = 16.6 ms ). If your hardware isn’t fast enough and the update time goes over 16.6ms, the entire user interface will start to slow down, resulting in jerky movement and a bad user experience.
Image: Example performance analysis on automotive hardware, with content types separated. Render time of each frame exceeds 16.6ms – performance will be affected.
With the new Progressive Rendering in Kanzi introduced in Kanzi 3.1.1, you can now assign different framerates for different content in your user interface. This means that you can distribute the rendering load of selected elements across multiple frames – rendering them a bit slower, but giving more system resources for your performance-critical elements.
Image: Progressive Rendering is now enabled. Rendering load for each frame has been reduced. Objects in green group will now render in 60 fps. Objects in blue group will render every second frame (30 fps).
How does Progressive Rendering work in Kanzi?
For more information on this feature, check out the documentation in Kanzi, as well as the dedicated tutorial. But in a nutshell:
- Decide on which content you want to use Progressive Rendering for (your car model, media player, maps, entire pages, individual animations etc.)
- Divide your content into a few equal-size groups (similar graphical complexity) in Kanzi
- Create a Progressive Rendering render pass for each of your groups in Kanzi
Any questions? Ask in the comments section, or contact us.
September 21, 2015 Kanzi, Prototyping, UI Design
When creating user interfaces for cars, showing things in the right context makes a big difference. During the development process you’ll be constantly reviewing your UI concepts and prototypes with your stakeholders in order to nail down the right look and feel and logic.
You can present your concepts on a projection screen or a monitor – you’ll probably get some feedback. But sit your test users down in a chair, have them put their hands on a wheel and show them your concepts on a real automotive display and the feedback you’ll get will be much more valuable. By using a realistic simulation it’s easier to get the test user into the “driver mind set”, which is when they start noticing a lot of the things that make a difference – text sizes, legibility, interaction logic, responsiveness, animations, possible error scenarios…
The challenge in creating an automotive simulation environment is that with no commercial options available you’ll have to build most of it yourself. And with your projects always being pressed on time, you want to find a way to rapidly design and create those components.
Picture: Sketch of a case design for an automotive cluster display
One of our technology partners recently provided us with a set of cutting-edge automotive instrument cluster displays. We wanted to use these displays for prototyping in an ongoing development project, as well as for demos and events. However, specialized components like these are usually provided as just a set of monitors and wires. We wanted to have a more realistic set-up, with the displays placed inside nice-looking protective casings.
After looking at available options, we chose to go with 3D printing, which would allow us to create custom designs – fast! We contacted Pete at Innoexpress, who took up the challenge of creating custom cases for our displays.
After a session of design sketching and taking measurements, we settled on a design that we liked. We designed the cases to have switchable faceplates, which would allow us to print specific masks for different projects.
After agreeing on a final design with Pete, he began the printing process and soon delivered the final cases for us. The displays fit nicely inside and the modular design means that we can easily create and switch new faceplates when needed. And now that we have a ready CAD model, we can print more cases whenever we need them.
If it doesn’t exist – make it!
Picture: Kanzi Performance Analyzer running on 12″ automotive display
Picture: QNX Technology Concept Car Maserati cluster running on 12″ automotive display
Ever wondered how companies like Audi create their digital user interfaces, like the Virtual Cockpit? Take a peek.
In this video we show how to create a digital cluster with Kanzi. This tutorial (included with Kanzi) teaches you how to work with e.g. digital gauges, needles and turn indicators. All that’s missing is the connection with the data in the car, which is the next tutorial… And it’s easy to do with our engine API.
August 3, 2015 Engineering, Interviews, Kanzi
In our interview series, we talk with people and companies that are at the forefront of creating the digital connected cars of tomorrow.
In our first interview, Laurent Vioujas from Visteon shares his thoughts on the digitalization of today’s connected car. Laurent also talks about how they’ve made the transition to digital dashboards and how digitalization has impacted their development process.
1. Introduce yourself and what you do
My name is Laurent Vioujas. I am a UI Software Lead engineer here at Visteon Corporation, which is one of the largest Tier 1 automotive suppliers. I live in Detroit and have been working here for the last seven years. I have had the opportunity to work both on production programs and Visteon’s innovation products. Our teams use Rightware’s Kanzi UI Solution for creating automotive Human-Machine Interfaces (e.g. clusters, infotainment systems and HUDs) for our clients. Visteon is also participating in Rightware’s Kanzi Partner Program.
My team is currently working on high-end, fully reconfigurable instrument clusters that will go to market in the next few years. Our team is global with team members in North America, Europe, and Asia.
2. How has the transition from traditional instrument clusters to digital clusters changed the development process?
The transition from traditional instrument clusters to digital clusters has been progressive for me. We’ve gone from working with segmented displays (“traditional” physical gauges with an LCD in the middle), to LCD cluster displays – 4.2”, 10.1” with ever-growing resolutions.
With segmented displays there tends to be less flexibility. The design has to be discussed and agreed upon upfront, and each change tends to require quite a bit of cost and work, which means that the design is generally frozen pretty early on in the development.
The move to digital instrument clusters was a learning process – both for the customer and for us! We found that we needed to educate customers on GPU limitations, 2D/3D capability, gradient rendering, font rendering, and the entire change control process that’s needed when developing digital interfaces. With a digital cluster we have a large surface to work with, which allows for more flexibility and more innovative design. Rightware Kanzi makes it possible for us to implement design changes rapidly.
It’s a bit of a new world for everybody, including the customer and our HMI teams. However, at Visteon we have worked hard to educate everyone involved and make sure our stakeholders understand that each GPU is different and has different capabilities. Most of the time you tend to get what you pay for, but when you use a proper graphics solution, there are great graphics effects that can be achieved even with cheap GPUs!
3. In your opinion, what is the most challenging part in the process of developing an automotive HMI?
An automotive HMI isn’t something that gets updated on a monthly basis. This might change in the near future, but for now when you buy a car at the dealership the cluster comes with an HMI which you are going to keep until you change car. When you compare it to your smartphones, computers or even now smartwatches which can be easily skinned or customized this is very different. There are so many people involved in the development of an automotive HMI, and each person has their own preferences, so it can sometimes be challenging to come to a consensus on design. Some people prefer dark colors, others like larger fonts, 3D models, etc. The HMI you see in your car has gone through numerous iterations during its development and many people have voiced their opinions. As a consumer, what you see is the final product.
To answer your question, the most challenging part in the process of developing an automotive HMI tends to be the establishment of the final requirements; the final decision where the graphics and the user experience has been agreed upon by the entire approval chain at the OEM.
Rapidly prototyping our design on real hardware tends to be one of our most effective tools for eliciting requirements. Showing designs on a projector screen doesn’t give an accurate sense of the product; the large image hides nuances in the design, so reviewers tend not to give many comments. Instead showing the design on a 12” digital cluster behind a wheel, completely changes their mindset! That’s when they start noticing even the small things and the feedback starts coming in. Rightware Kanzi has been an essential tool for us in establishing a standard process for rapid prototyping.
4. We see the Engineer and Designer roles becoming closer, even merging in some cases. How do you see these roles evolving?
In automotive HMI development, I think that experts are still needed on both ends. We need expert engineers in software programming and experts in design, but I also see a third role: a “Designer-Engineer” capable of performing most programming tasks as well as graphics rendering. This person can perform most day-to-day activities with modern HMI tools like Kanzi, but needs to rely on the experts in some cases where something really complex or outside of the ordinary needs to be done. Each person is different and while some people can excel in a very specific domain (C++ programming, shader programming, 3D design, etc), others can be pretty good in all of these domains! All of these roles bring value to a larger complex project like a custom automotive UI. We need the experts early on in the development of the project to set the architecture, the structure, and the rules, once all of this has been established they are not needed as much and can move on to their new projects while still providing ad hoc support during development. Of course, you need support for the technology you are using as well. With Rightware Kanzi, we leverage the local Rightware team here in Detroit which has been extremely helpful for us.
5. How does the end user benefit from a well-made HMI?
A well-made HMI should be intuitive and help the driver stay safe – not distracted or confused. For now autonomous driving is still a few years away, and the main job of the driver while on the road is to drive safely. The end user should be able to easily figure out the logic between the various menus he has to access on his steering wheel. Consistency is the key. Unfortunately, it can be easy for engineers to create exceptions in the UX which end up being confusing. For us here at Visteon, user experience is extremely important which is why we often work very closely with the customer in making sure that the UX and the actual implementation stay aligned.
6. What do you think is a good skill set for becoming an automotive HMI designer or engineer?
This may sound like a cliché, but it is really, really important to be able to think outside the box and to think about the “abnormal” use cases. Unfortunately, these are the use cases that tend to take 99% of our time. We frequently ask ourselves during our meetings, “What should the cluster display do if A, B, and C all happen at the same time?” Even though these scenarios represent an extremely small percentage of the use cases and the end user might never see it in the years he will own his vehicle, we need to be able to handle those properly to ensure safety. Being able to spot these cases as early as possible in the design process is a key skill for both engineers and designers.
7. How do you see the role of the Tier 1 evolving in the future?
Tier 1s currently have the role of delivering an embedded electronic product combining hardware and software according to the OEM’s specifications. The Tier 1 is responsible for selecting the right hardware/software eco-system to address these requirements in terms of features, quality, time-to-market and cost.
While some OEMs have started to define the HMI – from graphic design to platform software delivery – for the Tier 1 to integrate, others prefer a complete solution designed and supplied by the Tier 1.
Tier 1s are well positioned to observe the market developments and is a good source for new ideas providing product and market differentiation to the OEMs. Technology innovation and the creation of a unique user experience require a tool for the Tier 1 and OEM to align the strategy and collaborate across the increasingly capable (but more complex) graphics eco-system. Using the most optimized tool for graphic design and platform execution is therefore essential to enable the creativity in the collaboration process, while reducing requirement capture and development cycles.
8. How do you see automotive HMIs such as clusters, infotainment systems and HUDs changing in the next 5 years?
With prices of powerful embedded 2D/3D GPU going down, some OEMs will probably go down the path of having one unique HMI for their entire vehicle line with maybe a few exceptions for their flagships or performance vehicles. Others may go to the opposite extreme with “skinnable” UIs for each model. Again, we need to remember that safety is the key priority and we cannot be distracted by pretty, flashy skins. I am hoping OEMs will use their digital instrument clusters, IVIs and HUDs more as selling features for their vehicles in the future because, at the end of the day, you spend most of your time watching the road when you drive, but the instrument cluster is next.
Thank you for the interview, Laurent.
May 26, 2015 Kanzi
We’ve released our latest newsletter, collecting some of the interesting links around our activities. Sign up for our mailing list to make sure you get the latest updates into your inbox.
Welcome to the May 2015 issue of the Rightware Newsletter.
In this issue:
- Rightware at TU-Automotive Detroit – launching new automotive product, partner program
- Kanzi UI Solution 3.1 released – See demo
- Rightware divests Benchmarking business, increases focus on automotive HMIs
- Webinar: How to choose the right software and hardware platform for your HMI
- Blog: Top 5 challenges of automotive digital clusters
Rightware at TU-Automotive Detroit
On June 3-4, Rightware will be exhibiting at the TU-Automotive Detroit conference in Novi, MI, where we will launch a brand new automotive HMI product and a new partner program. Visit booth #C115 for an exclusive first look at our new product, and see the latest automotive HMI demos created with Kanzi UI Solution.
Kanzi UI Solution 3.1 released
Rightware has released version 3.1 of its Kanzi UI Solution. The new release includes a brand new HMI localization and internationalization system, various feature enhancements and fixes.
Soon we can reveal what our design and R&D teams have been working on for the past months.
Any guesses as to what it is? Hints: Automotive, Kanzi, Performance.
The answer will be revealed at TU Automotive in Detroit, MI on June 3-4 2015.
Here at Rightware, we like challenges. We enjoy pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve even with a limited set of resources at our disposal. Many of us have backgrounds in the demoscene, where we’ve learned to squeeze out every last bit of performance from both software and hardware.
That’s why when our partner Imagination (the guys who make the graphics processors that are inside your iPhone and iPad) asked us if we’d collaborate in a car interface hackathon, we were quick to say yes!
The two-day hackathon was to take place at the University of Southampton in co-operation with their Electronics and Computer Sciences department. Located in southern UK, ranked as one of the leading academic research units in the world, and with more than 23 000 students, University of Southampton has produced notable alumni such as Tim Berners-Lee, Brian Eno and Adrian Newey.
The objective of the hackathon would be to provide student teams an opportunity to design and engineer digital automotive user interfaces and HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) with real-life tools. Teams would have 24 hours to create a concept – designing a digital dashboard with and integrating it with a variety of sensors, simulating data in automotive use cases.
Imagination’s new CI20 Creator microcomputer would be used as the target hardware. Rightware Kanzi would be used for user interface design and engineering – students would be able to use the same tools Audi uses for creating their dashboards!
Rightware’s engineers were quick to port Kanzi for the CI20 on Debian Linux, and we found it a nice piece of kit to work with. The CI20 comes with the PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which is OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible. We were impressed how much PowerVR graphics performance and MIPS CPU horsepower Kanzi had to play with on such a low cost board!
We arrived at the university on Saturday morning. After a short mission briefing (with a bit of Mission Impossible thrown in for motivation=)), we assigned the students to groups, gathered in the ECS computer lab and started hacking.
During the first hour, students already started coming up with innovative ideas for hacks. Some groups started by designing visuals with Kanzi, while others experimented with hardware, with ideas for wearables and even ADAS features. Imagination and Rightware provided support (and the necessary food and drinks to keep the students going=).
At the end of the second day it was time for the student teams to present their projects to the judges from Imagination and Rightware. It was a tough decision, but there was a clear winner. Two teams had decided to combine their efforts – one had created an impressive, responsive car dashboard UI with Kanzi and the other a fully functional CAN BUS interface controlling feeding the Kanzi dashboard on the CI20. Their joint project was the winner.
All in all – a successful event with some highly innovative automotive projects! Our thanks to the guys and girls at ECS Southampton, all students and faculty involved.
Interested in hosting a car hackathon for your school/institution? Contact us.
In his February 2015 review, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame gave high praise for the Virtual Cockpit, stating that it “makes an iPad look like a Victorian’s typewriter”. After winning the Connected Car Expo award in December 2014, the Virtual Cockpit was also awarded with the Popular Science “Product of the Future Award“.
Have you had a test drive of the Audi TT or the TTS (with the enhanced “sport” mode gauges)?
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit human-machine interface is designed and engineered using Rightware Kanzi. The system runs on Rightware’s Kanzi graphics engine.
January 27, 2015 UI Design
Hi there! Welcome to our blog.
In our blog, we’ll be sharing our thoughts and best practices on e.g.
- The digitalization of the modern car
- Human-Machine Interface (HMI) design and engineering
- Real-time 3D graphics
- Embedded graphics hardware
Enjoy the ride!