Pervasive connectivity is changing the face of industries and especially as consumers demand constant, seamless connection on all devices at all times. This directly impacts the automotive industry, which is at a turning point, one where technology is advancing at a rapid rate, disrupting both the exterior and interior of the car. By 2020, an estimated 69 million cars with web-based hardware will be shipped. It is inevitable that there will be more and more computers in vehicles: built-in, brought-in, worn, etc. Many of these devices will want to interact with us— and us with them— likely introducing more complexity into an already complex technology ecosystem. HARMAN has a vision to find the perfect balance of data consumption in the vehicle to help maximize simplicity. 

Now more than ever, it’s mission critical for user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers and engineers to focus on addressing how drivers can intuitively, effectively and efficiently consume in-vehicle information— whether it be visually or auditory. In the future, vehicles will participate in diverse ecosystems for frictionless transition of content and control between home, vehicle and personal devices to create an integrated experience.  Automotive UX/UI designers must therefore incorporate intuitive data displays and personalized contextual interactions.

We believe that mere functionality is nothing without a simple, seamless user experience. To create these experiences, UI design, advanced interfaces, intelligent personalization and next-generation human machine interactions (HMI) are critical components to the journey. To that end, HARMAN runs an established user experience center of competence that designs, develops and productizes holistic digital in-vehicle experiences optimized for efficiency and simplicity. The center focuses on three main tenets that we believe drive the automotive in-cabin/cockpit experience: display hardware and optical systems, user-focused interaction and visual design, and a personalized portable integration.

The emphasis on a user-centered design approach is critical as the future in-vehicle experience will be driven by an integrated cockpit that is contextual and intuitive. There will be an intuitive display of data at the heart of the solution enabling more seamless, natural interaction between the driver and the vehicle. HMI design done correctly will capitalize on the wants and needs of consumers and deliver an integrated connected car cockpit that:

  • Enables seamless data output across multiple coordinated displays
  • Includes integrated driver assistance features, laying the foundation for autonomy
  • Leverages natural language understanding (NLU) to deliver contextual information
  • Simplifies interactions, maximizes attention, embraces the familiar and maintains consistency 
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The future of the car and the human relationship with it, not to mention the automotive industry as a whole, is evolving quickly and will continue to do so as autonomous cars and shared mobility become commonplace.  The focus on user experience and how consumers engage with their vehicles creates an exciting space— one we’re defining alongside our customers. Based on consumer-focused research and micro and macro market trends, we are helping automakers to differentiate their brands and deliver an exclusive customer experience. We believe that automotive UX designers and engineers must remain flexible, informed, inspired and embrace challenges to create the ultimate experience for consumers – an intelligent, seamless connection of data and devices. The ultimate goal: having a continuously learning car.

Rashmi Rao is HARMAN’s Senior Director of Advanced Systems and User Experience, responsible for defining the company’s technology strategy and roadmap to drive breakthrough user experiences in next-gen connected cars.  She oversees the direction and management of the advanced engineering organization.