Next Driver Experience

An increasing number of assistance systems, telematic services and apps are finding their way into the vehicle cockpit. This means that the cockpit is constantly getting more complex and the density of information is increasing. The possibility of the driver becoming overwhelmed or not being able to understand relevant information goes up by the same magnitude. We are working together with the Daimler research team to develop a display system of the future that will meet the growing requirements in the cockpit.

This research project has to thematic threads: (1) Situational and context-sensitive information and warning systems (2) traffic jam during a fully automated journey. Both of these threads essentially address next-generation telematics services. This is combined with the information density of the user interface that is already in place in the cockpit. The overall challenge is the visualization of information: How can all of this information be displayed in the cockpit – and still provide the driver with a positive user experience?

“As you can easily imagine, drivers in a city such as Shanghai have to be able to process much more information in quick succession than if they were traveling on a never-ending country road in Southern Germany.“

Journeys in urban areas, rural regions, on the highway or on the hunt for a parking space all pose different tasks for the driver and the vehicle. This means requirements vary depending on the context of use. Our solution hypothesis for the overall challenge: Information has to displayed in different ways, depending on the driving situation, so that the driver has less to worry about. The vehicle has to recognize and evaluate the current situation and supply the relevant information to the cockpit in line with the circumstances.

Together with the Daimler research team, we have posed two questions as a way of approaching these problems:

  • Is it possible to filter all telematic data and information automatically and display it at the right moment?
  • Is communication via the visual channel the only important source of information in the vehicle or could other senses support the driver in making a better assessment of the current situation?
  • Visual and Auditory Responsive Design in the Vehicle

    If a driver is stuck in traffic or making slow progress in stop & go mode, there is a focus on infotainment and personal communication. The current vehicle-related information such as speed or RPM is less important in these circumstances. As a way of changing the focus in line with the current driving situation, each component of the user interface in the cockpit has several visual conditions – from reduced and minimalist to a fully developed view.

    Our concept for the display of telematic data is based on the driver’s request to be able to fully assess upcoming situations on the route. The ‘telematic assistant’ will display the supporting information in detail according to the situation. The data visualization draws on the analogy of a segmented 3D cylinder.

    In addition to visual perception, the driver is also supported by a spatial, auditory positioning of information and warning messages inside the vehicle. The conceptual foundation also offers the sound system, which is already integrated into vehicles anyway. By using “Ambisonic Panning“, drivers receive a spatial impression as if the sound were coming from a certain direction. This means that the driver can sense the precise direction of a signal or the geographical location of an incident.

    “If the car is getting closer to danger, the warning signal inside the car gets closer to the driver.“


    In a very short space of time, we have been able to develop an interactive driving simulator incorporating eight commercially available audio speakers, an external sound card and standard media equipment. Over the course of this project, we were able to simulate and test ideas with the prototype and feed the results into the upcoming project iteration. The extremely fast interplay of design thinking and prototyping enabled us to iterate on a weekly basis within the two-month project duration and thus optimize the results of our work very quickly. This methodology facilitated a fast and wide-reaching movement away from abstract deliberations and towards a concrete and tangible solution.

    “Designing an adaptive user interface means experiencing the application of a product or service yourself to drive the positive user experience even further.“

    We were pleasantly surprised by the results of this project:

  • It is possible to design a user interface for the future that can organize a cornucopia of information and is able to display data automatically on request.
  • In future, the responsive and adaptive user interface will play a central role when it comes to enabling semi-autonomous, autonomous and energy-efficient driving.
  • More about urbanity and mobility of the future:

  • “From pull to push: Why Apple Carplay and Android Auto drive automotive User Experience to a new level“
  • “About Design, Mobility and Complexity“
  • “Rapid Prototyping für Daimler Research“
  • Case Studies