Kanzi Connect speeding up HMI development

Guest blog by Timo Posio and Antti Pitkänen, Siili Auto.

This blog was originally published on December 2, 2020 by Siili Auto.

Siili Auto has been responsible for the user interface (UI) design and software implementation for the award-winning (German Design Awards 2021) Origo Steering Wheel concept. The UI is developed on the Kanzi software framework from Rightware and was developed with related products Kanzi UI, Kanzi Connect, and Kanzi Maps. Since Rightware is also a founding member of MIVI, the consortium under which the collaborative Origo Steering Wheel was developed, we worked closely together, and Siili had access to the latest releases of the Kanzi tools.

Origo Steering Wheel Concept

Simulation and testing made easy

Antti Pitkänen, Technical designer in siili_auto shares his experiences working with Kanzi Connect in Origo project:

In previous projects I have been working on, there has not been any quick and easy solutions to test and prototype the UI. Constant testing of the UI is important to determine that the design is usable and safe for the user. I have had to build the application and load it physically via a USB-drive onto the target device to see if things work as intended and to make sure UI reacts correctly according to the data. This was a very time-consuming way of testing and led to less frequent testing because of the hassle. This in turn led to less stability.

In the Origo project, I got the possibility to work for first time with Kanzi Connect and related tools. And I have to say, Kanzi Connect makes the life of a technical designer much easier, when developing the UI with Kanzi Studio.

Kanzi Connect services provide the backend data to the UI via datasources. The built-in simulator in Kanzi Connect enabled me, the technical designer, to test the UI directly in Kanzi Studio. With the simulator I could test different scenarios when certain data is fed to the UI, quickly verifying that the application works as intended, the UI displays nicely, and nothing breaks down.

The simulator also enabled me to proceed with the UI implementation independent of the progress of the backend implementation. During final integration of the UI and backend there were only minor things to fix, thanks to earlier testing with the Simulator.

Kanzi Connect Simulator

In conclusion, Kanzi Connect starts a server with a simulator that has an interface with all your services’ datasources, events, and methods. It connects straight to Kanzi Studio and you can simulate the UI solution in your Kanzi live preview window.

Origo extension possibilities

The distributed architecture of Kanzi Connect provides excellent possibilities to extend the Origo Steering Wheel concept further. For example, when adding another display to the system, it can directly consume data and services already present in the Kanzi Connect system. Similarly, the available set of data and services can be extended by integrating new services from automotive systems (CAN bus, sensors…), the operating system and underlying hardware platform (apps, media, peripherals…) or the cloud (map data, weather, news…) into the Kanzi Connect system. This enables any UI application to benefit from the extended set of data and services, no matter the device or operating system on which the UI is running.

Kanzi Connect provides simple APIs for several programming languages, and it integrates directly into Kanzi Studio. The APIs allow developers to extend the system by adding new data providers and consumers in a flexible and controlled way. Integration with Kanzi Studio enables UI designers to work directly with the data and services, leading to quick iterations in the UI design phase.

Kanzi Connect enables developers to build truly intelligent systems, where all components can share a common awareness of the system state and work together seamlessly. This enables UIs on different displays to work in synchronization with each other when an event inside or outside the vehicle occurs. UIs on different displays can work together to ensure the driver has access to the most relevant data at any time. This is not limited to UIs on different displays on a single platform, but also spans to all other hardware and devices that are working together as a part of the same system.

Our plan is to use Origo Steering Wheel as a demonstration and prototyping platform and as a test bench for new innovations. We are looking forward to prototyping more future-looking user experiences with the Origo Steering Wheel in a multi-screen cockpit scenario.

Speaker profile / Antti Pitkänen:
Antti Pitkänen is expert in 2D/3D solutions with strong experience in real-time graphics and rendering. Currently Antti Pitkänen works as a Technical Designer, Oulu at siili_auto.

Speaker profile / Timo Posio:
Timo Posio is a passionate technology and software guy and senior manager with close to 30 years of IT experience from telecom and automotive. Currently Timo works as a Business Development Manager, Oulu at siili_auto.