The Haptic Drive

Abstract

Cars now come with more functionality than ever. In order to make those functions accessible, new forms of touch-screen interactions have to be employed, instead of the obsolete "button and knob" paradigm. Although this might sound great, touch-screens are not the most optimal way to interact with your car, because they require your visual attention, which is desperately needed for a safe operation of the vehicle.

The Haptic Drive project focuses on solving this problem by expanding the standard way of interacting with touch-screens and giving the driver the ability to sense the functionality and get feedback at the fingertips.

Inspiration and Method

This project was inspired by technologies that currently exist outside the automotive industry or just came out of the labs. The other source of inspiration was the plethora of things that we, as humans, are able to feel with our sense of touch. When looking at it from this perspective, it seems that the vibrations in are phones are making fun of what we are able to experience. After the visual and auditory, haptics is the next sense to be fully stimulated by technologies that surround us every day.

To figure out what works and what doesn't, I have built countless prototypes to experience and test which sensory properties can be best facilitated to create a certain experience. The lifecycle of every prototype started as an idea that first had to pass through the barrier of technical possibility. If it worked, it was then evaluated by me to feel if it gives the right haptic feedback. The last step was the user testing. Only if the user found an experience pleasurable and understandable it got implemented into the final prototype.

Result

The analysis of existing interfaces has shown that there is currently only one function and type of information provided at any time. This means that the driver can not see directions while changing the music, for example. The concept layout will provide information about all the basic functions (climate control, navigation, music and phone) where one function shows all information and others only the basics. To avoid visual clutter and ensure quick recognition, graphic elements have been distilled to their essential forms while still retaining a sense of visual pleasure.

To identify, differentiate between and set the climate control, the knob for heating would change its temperature, the ventilation knob blow air at the set speed and the air flow direction knob would tilt in the set direction. While the volume knob would react to the beat of the music. The volume knob can be moved around the screen and can control the volume of different functions depending on its location.

To understand the project better, please take a look at this short video:
http://vimeo.com/mihafeus/hapticdrive