New frontiers in automotive HMI and display design

July 31, 2018 Majeed Ahmad, Automotive Contributor

The shifting design focus for in-vehicle electronic systems is resulting in multiple displays that yield richer user experiences and more advanced human-machine interface (HMI) systems.

HMI designs are now employing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to reduce driver distractions through a new breed of gesture-recognition features. That allows drivers to switch on lights and answer phone calls while still focusing on the road.

Microchip's new 3D gesture-recognition controller for automotive HMI designs is a case in point. The capacitive technology-based air gesture controller can be easily tuned to a sensor in order to create a 3D gesture system. And it allows the use of a sensor constructed from any conductive material.

Figure 1. The block diagram of the 3D gesture recognition controller for automotive HMI applications. Image Microchip

Here, unlike touch and gesture controllers based on infrared and time-of-flight technologies, which can be costly and operate poorly in bright or direct sunlight, Microchip claims its MGC3140 gesture-recognition controller for automotive HMI designs offers reliable sensing in full sunlight and harsh environments.

The MGC3140 controller chip is qualified for the AEC-Q100 specification from the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC) and meets the strict EMI and EMC requirements of automotive system designs. The single-chip solution is available in an evaluation platform that includes a reference PCB with the MGC3140 controller, a PCB-based sensor to recognize gestures, all required cables, and software and documentation.

Another notable automotive offering — the SC1701 graphics controller from Socionext — offers display resolution of up to one U-HD (4K) or two F-HD (2K) at 30 bpp. It facilitates two separate video streams over a single link by utilizing the VESA display stream compression (DSC) technique. The graphics controller supports multiple content-rich displays inside the vehicle while meeting high-speed video and data connectivity and stringent safety requirements.

Figure 2. The key building blocks of an automotive system design supporting multiple display devices. Image: Socionext

Socionext’s SC1701 controller chip also has embedded non-volatile memory (NVM) — SST’s SuperFlash — that includes diagnostic and security protection capabilities, cyclic redundancy code (CRC) checks, picture freeze detection, and multi-window signature unit. The SuperFlash memory comes in a small bit-cell-size package and provides fast read speed along with superior data retention and endurance for in-vehicle displays.

The two design case studies outlined above show how in-vehicle infotainment technologies are enhancing content richness while adding new dimensions like artificial intelligence to automotive system designs. And, that tailor-made embedded solutions are available for implementing these automotive advancements.

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