Babenhausen (Germany). Modern vehicles are supporting motorists with a growing number of new functions. In this context, Continental, the international automotive supplier, is researching more intuitive, safer and simple control options for motorists. The latest development is the integration of haptic feedback into touch-sensitive surfaces. By this means, the driver is able to sense directly whether he has actually activated a ?touch element? after touching it. With its innovations, Continental is supporting automotive manufacturers all over the world with the development of modern human-machine interfaces (HMI). The first series orders underline the promising future of this technology, and at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2012, Continental will show several applications for touch elements that provide direct feedback to users.
Gaining ground: Touch-sensitive surfaces in cars
Touchscreen smartphones are enjoying increasing popularity as more and more people rely on their simple and intuitive operability. Motorists are also calling for more touch-sensitive surfaces in cars. Products such as secondary displays, large-scale displays in the central console and touchpads are ideal for facilitating driver interaction via adapted and context-related presentation of information. As early as 2014, Continental expects one in six new cars registered in Western Europe, the USA and Japan to be fitted with touchscreens.
More attention to traffic thanks to haptic feedback
?However, it is not possible to simply transfer the concept of touch-sensitive surface operations from the field of consumer electronics into a car exactly as it is,? explains Guido Meier-Arendt, an HMI expert at Continental. ?Up to now, feedback was received directly through classic control elements such as rotary switches or switches and buttons, the eyes, ears and above all the operating hand whereas touch-sensitive displays in cars were disregarded as an important feedback means.? To make the operation of touch elements even safer and more effective for motorists ? whose primary task is, after all, to keep their eyes on the road ? Continental is focusing on tactile (i.e. haptic) feedback from touch-sensitive surfaces. For example, slight counter-pressure from the display on the driver?s finger indicates that an operating step has been performed successfully, making it unnecessary for the driver to look at the screen again.
For the haptic feedback, Continental calculates the exact position of the finger in the touch process. Touch sensors on a purely electrical (capacitive), electromechanical (resistive) or optical (via an infra-red sensor) basis perform this task. They reliably locate the position of the finger to less than a millimeter deviation. Depending on the position identified, a decision is made on how haptic feedback is to be provided. Whether a touch element is actually activated also depends on the operating force, which is calculated via further sensors or through signal processing steps on the basis of existing data. The actuators needed to carry out mechanical movements can generate various types of haptics information within a frequency range of up to 200 hertz and more.
Feedback can be provided in forms ranging from slight counter-pressure to vibration, depending on the respective control concept. This allows different feedback strategies to be implemented which are tailored to the manufacturers? requirements. Series of tests have shown that haptics is accepted much better by motorists than visual or acoustic signals. Continental has also made use of this principle in its Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal (AFFP). Thanks to haptic feedback, the world?s first active gas pedal in serial production offers a new possibility to provide imminent danger warnings to motorists directly through the feet, for example.
Ready for serial production ? for more safety and pleasure to use
Continental has completed the basic pre-development phase and is now in a position to work on specific implementation for new vehicle models together with automotive manufacturers. ?Let?s say that the combination of touch-sensitive surfaces and haptic feedback is a tangible innovation, that will provide even better support for motorists,? declares Eelco Spoelder, Head of the Instrumentation & Driver HMI division. ?Our customers can use this technology to improve safety for passengers, but also to create a kind of magic sensation for the operator due to the haptic feedback.?
Continental will showcase this technology also during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 8-13, 2012. Continental will host a private hospitality salon during the event, and executives will be on hand for on-site interviews to share additional information about these and other Continental technologies.
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Med en omsetning p? ? 26 mrd i 2010, er Continental en av verdens st?rste leverand?rer til bilindustrien. Som leverand?r av bremsesystemer, chassis-komponenter, bilelektronikk, dekk, sikkerhetssystemer og teknisk elastisk kunststoff bidrar Continental til ?kt trygghet i trafikken og global klimasikkerhet. Selskapet er ogs? en profilert partner i fremtidens nettverkskommunikasjon mellom biler. Continental har p.t. ca 164.000 ansatte i 45 land.
Continental er markedsleder i Europa p? personbildekk. Mer enn 30% av alle europeiske biler forlater fabrikken med Continentaldekk. Continentals dekkdivisjon er offisiell sponsor av 2014 FIFA World Cup Brasil, UEFA EURO 2012 i Polen og Ukraina, samt 2016 i Frankrike. For ytterligere detaljer, se www.ContiSoccerWorld.com.