Industry Leaders Discuss UX Megatrends, Part 1: Digital Displays

Rightware Fireside Chat CES 2019
Size and number of digital screens in vehicles continues to increase

The following is the first in a 3-part article from a fireside chat held at the Rightware Party at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. For more, read part 2 on connected ecosystems and part 3 on ADAS and autonomy.

Whenever business leaders gather to talk about the automotive industry, hot topics are almost certain to become part of the discussion. When Rightware gathered software, semiconductor, and automotive leaders for a fireside chat at its annual Kanzi Partner Program social event at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the conversation centered around three megatrends in the automotive industry: the increasing size of screens in cars; connectivity and app ecosystems inside the vehicle; and the evolution toward semi- and fully autonomous vehicles.

Sharing their visions were Dan Mender, vice president of business development at Green Hills Software; J F Grossen, global vice president of design for HERE Technologies; Michael Groene, director of electrical engineering at Karma Automotive; Bill Pinnell, senior director of automotive software at Qualcomm, and Ville Ilves, CEO of Rightware. The discussion was moderated by Derek Sellin, vice president of marketing for Rightware.


More displays, larger displays

The panel unanimously agreed that the number and size of screens inside vehicles will continue to increase. “We have a lot of customers asking for more and more screen real estate across the whole dash board, but also for rear-seat entertainment,” said Pinnell, who noted automakers are anticipating that when autonomous vehicles come to market passengers will demand screens as large as home televisions.

Placing more and larger screens in the vehicle does not come without challenges. Green Hills Software is leveraging its experience helping aircraft manufacturers manage an array of information across multiple screens in airplane cockpits to teach the auto industry how best to manage the screens and information displayed in vehicles.

“I think of what’s happening in the automobile like what’s being displayed in a (Boeing) 787 aircraft. You look at all those screens, and all the real estate, and all the graphics that are on there,” said Mender. “We focus on how you are going to make sure your (vehicle) system is safe and secure, make sure that you design the system so that critical items are placed in the proper place (to get) the right experience out of all of the other information that is being displayed.”

Grossen noted the “natural inclination” to fill larger displays with more information, a temptation he cautions UI designers to resist: “Just because you have a 40-inch screen in front of you doesn’t mean you have to fill it,” he said. “It’s really being selective in how you display (layers of information). With maps and routing and guidance, it’s about focus and about giving people the right information at the right time.”

The challenge to focus on providing the right amount of information is further compounded by always-on connectivity, which means that advertisements and other types of content “can be shoved into the screens,” said Grossen.

Groene expects the size, quality, and number of screens in vehicles to continue to increase, creating opportunities for automakers to differentiate their vehicles from the competition. “I see the big screens, the center screens, (creating) more space to entertain and maybe advertise,” he said.

One way automakers can utilize the digital landscape to create brand identity is through map rendering. “Development of map rendering has been one of the areas we have been vigorously working on for the last year or so,” said Ilves. “The ability to tailor the rendering to align with the OEM brand is a big thing, and adding layers of data on top of the navigation is really exciting.”

Rightware thanks the panelists for participating in the fireside chat and all of its partners that create a global ecosystem of companies working together to develop and define the future of digital HMI utilizing Kanzi. Rightware also wants to thank the companies that sponsored its annual Kanzi Partner Program reception at CES: Monotype, KPIT, E-Planet, Siili Solutions, and Green Hills Software.

Read more about Rightware’s CES announcement of Kanzi for Android, bringing high-performance graphics to Android IVI systems and sharing data from Android-based apps and services across the vehicle cockpit. For a glimpse into Rightware's private suite, head over to the CES 2019 Kanzi Experience.

The Future of Automotive UX - Download presentation deck