Interface Design In an Automobile Glass Cockpit Environment

Today’s automobile cockpit is filled with different buttons and screen-based displays giving input and relaying information in a complex human-machine system. Following in the footsteps of the early 1970s flight industry, this work focused on creating a complete glass cockpit concept in the automobile.

Our automobile glass cockpit consists of three displays. A touch screen based centre console with an interface that we took part in creating during the spring of 2006. Parallel to this ongoing project, a head-up display was installed by a group of students and we had the opportunity of giving input regarding the design of the graphical interface.

The third display, a LCD, replaces the main instruments displaying speed, RPM, fuel level, engine temperature etc. Together with ideas on an extended allocation of functions to the area on and around the steering wheel, creating a dynamic mode based interface replacing today’s static main instruments was the focus of this project.

After conducting a thorough theoretical study, a large number of ideas were put to the test and incorporated in concept sketches. Paper sketches ranging from detailed features to all-embracing concepts combined with interviews and brainstorming sessions converged into a number of computer sketches made in an image processing software. The computer sketches was easily displayed in the cockpit environment and instantly evaluated. Some parts were discarded and some incorporated in new, modified, ideas leading to a final concept solution.

After the design part was concluded, the new graphical interface was given functionality with the help of a programming software. As was the case with the computer sketches, the functionality of the interface could be quickly evaluated and modified. With the help of a custom-made application our interface could be integrated with the simulator software and fully implemented in the automobile cockpit at the university simulator facilities.

Using a custom made scenario, the interface underwent a minor, informal evaluation. A number of potential users were invited to the VR-laboratory and introduced to the new concept. After driving a pre-determined route and familiarizing themselves with the interface, their thoughts on screen-based solutions in general and the interface itself was gathered. In addition, we ourselves performed an evaluation of the interface based on the theoretical study.
Source: Linköping University
Author: Spendel, Michael | Strömberg, Markus

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