Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure and forward collision warnings, and park assistance are frequently hailed as the technologies that will help usher society into an age of autonomous transportation. However, recent consumer studies indicate that drivers are still either untrusting, or too trusting, of these features and often misunderstand the limitations – potentially leading to increased risk and diminished safety benefits.  


Rashmi Rao, global head of Advanced Engineering, Strategic Business Unit, User Experience for HARMAN’s Connected Car division, recently discussed this at the QT World Summit 2018 where she advocated for a “New Canvas” for vehicular displays as a solution to these pressing issues that are arising on the way to truly autonomous driving.

In her keynote, Rashmi laid out how connected car technologies fundamentally change how users engage with the vehicle, which means the industry must rethink research and product development approaches from the ground up to create deeply intuitive and humanized systems.

One way to do this is by concentrating on something that may seem like an afterthought – the optimization of in-car display systems.

Re-thinking vehicle display systems

Fueled by research into public satisfaction with automotive display systems, one way to optimize in-car display systems is with the creation of the aforementioned “New Canvas”.

Representing an evolution of in-car user experience (UX) interfaces, New Canvas blends both QLED and OLED technology to optimize visibility in both bright light and darkness, rather than relying on LCDs to work in both environments. Because QLEDs were ranked highest in the light, and OLEDs were ranked best in the dark, using both in the various displays and controls of an advanced, semi-autonomous vehicle will help drivers be more cognizant of what the car is planning on doing.  

Additionally, it was found that the deeper, more saturated colors produced by the QLED/OLED combo were preferred by humans as they attracted exogenous attention and greater arousal. This is critical when it comes to the telltale alerts a semi-autonomous car will give, such as forward collision or lane departure warnings. Furthermore, with adoption of NCAP 2020, showing surround- and rear-view moving images, and having augmented reality overlays on real-life content become mandatory, the additional depth perception provided by high color gamut displays becomes imperative.

When it comes to displays, the adage “form follows function” reigns true. A thoughtful approach to creating a New Canvas of automotive gauges, clusters and controls must prioritize safety and functionality – it just so happens that beautiful, sharp and clear aesthetics can be an added benefit.


User interfaces in the age of the connected car

Currently, UX issues with ADAS – such as 80% of drivers being unaware of blind spot monitoring system limitations – demonstrate the need for better user interfaces.

User interfaces such as dashboard displays should inform the user of system limitations, simplify system interaction, and increase situational awareness of vehicle and road conditions to enhance safety.

Even in the age of the connected car, the ways that humans understand and interact with autonomous technology need to be carefully considered. For instance, in a semi-autonomous situation where the car is driving unaided, it could take more than a subtle notification icon on a display to ensure users are aware of a particular driving situation, or communicate the system’s limitations, should driver intervention be required. 

The advent of a New Canvas – a UX interface that is optimized for all light conditions, and that takes into account other system limitations as laid out above – represents a viable strategy to solve these issues on the way to fully autonomous driving.