Mercedes-Benz presented the first fully integrated telematics system in the automotive industry in 1993, when the Communication and Navigation System (CNS) was premiered in the S-Class. A further ground-breaking innovation followed in 1996 in the guise of the LINGUATRONIC voice control system, which defines the standard to this day. The first 16:9 colour screen was unveiled by Mercedes-Benz in 2002. Internet access on-board Mercedes-Benz vehicles was introduced this year.

At the TecTalk “@ your comand”, the company showed how the engineers at Mercedes-Benz envision the near and more distant multimedia future with the aim of maintaining this pioneering role in telematics and infotainment. “Our vision can be summed up by the four key concepts of a ‘Holistic experience’, ‘Natural interaction’, ‘Sensory perfection’ and ‘User-friendly remote control'”, explains Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bharat Balasubramanian, Vice President Product Innovations & Process Technologies in Group Research & Advanced Engineering at Daimler AG.

The company will be expanding the range of integrated apps for the COMAND Online multimedia system apace, for example, and offering numerous applications for all facets of the digital lifestyle. New apps for the Facebook online network, for Google Streetview and Google Panoramio will be available from the autumn of 2011. Over a dozen additional apps are planned in the medium term. These are currently under development, in some instances in collaboration with innovative start-ups such as the US talk radio operator Stitcher, the Twitter short message service and the popular music providers Pandora in the USA or Aupeo in Germany, for example. The new apps will be usable by all customers who drive a Mercedes-Benz with COMAND Online.

As already indicated in the “Concept A-CLASS” study (Shanghai, 2011), the graphic design of screen content will also acquire increasing importance in future. Dynamically growing glass elements form three-dimensionally arranged navigation levels. The user is guided intuitively around the spatial depth of this menu structure by flowing movements and fluidly animated transitions. In the long term, displays will allow even greater scope for personalisation and apps and control elements will no longer be restricted to specific displays. User-configurable displays are conceivable, for example, allowing drivers to determine for themselves which display elements are to be shown where.

“We are also pursuing research on 3D displays. Three-dimensional on-screen presentations enable information to be absorbed more intuitively,” Balasubramanian points out. “This simpler and faster recognition of warnings provides for a further improvement in road traffic safety.”

Operation will also be even more intuitive in future, with voice control covering most functions, supported by gestures and touch. In the medium term, it will be possible to dictate text messages and e-mails or to call up messages in this way. This will involve speaking a headline or, in the case of so-called “free” voice browsing, a specific question (“What’s the weather like in southern Germany?”). “To us as safety pioneers, it is important that the driver is not distracted in any way. On the contrary, the aim is to enhance driver-fitness safety through improved user-friendliness,” explains Balasubramanian.

Further examples of “natural interaction” include menu control via gestures or handwriting recognition (whereby the user traces a finger over the display on the head unit). In future, it may be possible to switch reading and interior lights on and off by means of swiping movements along the overhead control unit, and gesture-controlled invisible cameras could replace switches in vehicles.

Tomorrow’s motorists will be able to decide at the breakfast table or in the office which content or apps they wish to have on board, by carrying out corresponding pre-configurations via smartphone or PC. The first such application to have been realised is the option offered by COMAND Online of downloading a route which has been configured on a PC beforehand using Google Maps and transmitted to the car.

Source: Daimler AG