HMI & UX, Interviews

Interview: What are the Main Factors Influencing Current HMI Developments?

Wolfgang Klein - Lead UX Designer, Star

In the course of the 2019 Car HMI Europe, we.CONECT spoke with Wolfgang Klein, Lead UX Designer at Star, about which technologies and smart mobility concepts will disrupt the HMI market in the next years. Wolfgang has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a global design consultant and researcher, including work with numerous Fortune 500 enterprises. With a knack for storytelling, Wolfgang has designed mobility services for the automotive and aviation industries, consumer drones, e-bikes and e-car startups.

we.CONECT: In which way are you / is your company engaged in the innovations currently happening in the automotive industry around HMI development and user experience design?

Wolfgang Klein: At Star, we’ve worked with both OEMs and suppliers on three continents. Our involvement covers both strategy and design on one hand, and engineering on the other. Star Design has completed international field research, formulated holistic HMI visions and strategies for company-internal alignment, crafted HMI designs for implementation, and designed robotic in-car companions— with multiple related patents pending in the United States.
As for development and implementation, our talented Star Engineering team of 500+ digital engineers and project managers live and breathe new product development. The outcome? Design-led technology solutions. Utilizing fully agile methodology, we engage in web/mobile engineering, cloud engineering and devOps, QA, data science and machine learning and products/requirements management.

we.CONECT: What are the main factors influencing current HMI developments?

Wolfgang Klein: The automotive sector converges ever more strongly with other consumer, prosumer and lifestyle domains, leading to growing pressure from non-automotive companies in terms of the usability and performance of digital services. As a result, some OEMs now fully rely on synergies with UI existing frameworks, such as Android Auto.
Another macro trend is the shared ownership of cars, which extends the customer journey (through constant on- and offboarding) and requires more transparent asset management (by showing when and where potential cars are located).

“Whoever will master to bridge the gap between OEMs, mobility service providers, and other moving parts in the mobility ecosystem, will disrupt the market.”

we.CONECT: Which new technologies and smart mobility concepts do you think will disrupt the HMI market and why?

Wolfgang Klein: Visual HMIs seem to have reached a level of maturity, having successfully made the computer personal. The next frontier, as I see it, will be to make the computer a person. Already today, voice assistance is a bustling melting pot for machine learning and audio-driven interfaces. Another main disruptor for the HMI market will be sophisticated telepresence technology, including AR. Besides creating more immersive experiences, they might cut out the necessity to travel in the first place. Data and machine learning will play an ever more important role in providing connectivity, seamlessness, comfort, personalization, and efficiency during our time on the go. Whoever will master to bridge the gap between OEMs, mobility service providers, and other moving parts in the mobility ecosystem, will disrupt the market.
Regardless of the ownership model, cars will remain relevant as modes of transportation, thanks to unparalleled levels of comfort and last-mile navigation. Presumably, even passenger drones will not deliver the same kind of grid resolution any time soon, due to legal constraints.

we.CONECT: What role do you feel automation will play in the development of future HMI concepts and user experience strategies?

Wolfgang Klein: In a first step, automation will require dedicated efforts to avoid and disperse occupants’ fears. Once trust has been established and drivers dare take their hands off the wheel, occupants should find new ways to feel bonded with and in charge of the car they’re in. One key way to address both these points, as I argue in my session, is to build a credible and trustworthy car personality.

we.CONECT: What are the main challenges at the moment with regards to HMI concept development?

Wolfgang Klein: Many automotive players think of their competitors as other automotive players, exclusively. This can lead to a self-perpetuating mental models that underestimates the innovation, sophistication and pleasure of non-automotive digital service experiences, or breakthroughs in the IoT sector. As a result, digital facets are underrepresented in the innovation process, interactions across mobility touchpoints are incongruent or don’t even cover the entire product life cycle.

we.CONECT: What would you say is the most iconic HMI from the past 50 years?

Wolfgang Klein: Firstly, Nomi in NIO ES8 - A manifestation of the car’s intelligence that puts a charming and easy-to-read face to otherwise abstract or overwhelming processes. As I see it, a game-changer in the automotive industry!
And secondly, the Tesla Model 3 - a no-nonsense UI that doesn’t distract the user with ornamental interior details. Instead, the threshold to using digital services is minimal, and updating UI hardware post-purchase is easy. This UI promises to age most gracefully.

we.CONECT: Please explain in brief the key aspects of your session at the Car HMi Europe 2019.

Wolfgang Klein: A new player has emerged at the intersection of artificial intelligence, mechatronics and funny dog videos: collaborative robots, or “cobots” for short. How can cobots make automotive experiences safer, more productive and rewarding? Among other things, the session focused on how to leverage UX to disperse fears of artificial intelligence, and how to fuse brand and service ecosystem into a coherent synthetic personality.

we.CONECT: Thank you for taking part in our interview.

About Star:
Star is a global consultancy that connects insights, strategy, design, engineering and marketing services into a seamless workflow devised to support their clients every step of the way - no matter how long or complex their journey. 750 innovators, strategists, designers, engineers and marketers exist to make great ideas shine.

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The Annual Car HMI Europe is a well-established international knowledge exchange platform bringing together all stakeholders playing an active role in the technical and design field for automotive HMI and UX development. In 2.5 days you will get the chance to discuss opportunities as well as challenges in HMI and UX development that lie ahead of the automotive industry. The event provides you with precise insights into new business use cases, concepts, technical challenges and innovations while offering you the chance to discuss specific roadmaps for “Future HMIs & UX Redefined”.