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Volkswagen bringing gesture control to mass production in e-Golf Touch

Posted On Saturday, 09 January 2016 19:00 Written by
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Volkswagen returns to CES 2016 with two ground-breaking, zero-emissions vehicles: the BUDD-e concept and the e-Golf Touch. BUDD-e is a concept vehicle that will take CES attendees on a quick time-hop to the year 2019. In contrast, the e-Golf Touch, with its next-generation infotainment system, shows that technologies showcased at CES 2015 are close to production.

Additionally, Volkswagen will introduce numerous electronic innovations at CES 2016, to debut in the very near future. These developments illustrate how cars are currently undergoing immense transformations via electronics. New innovations control drive functions, allow driver assistance features to react faster, and increase connectivity by bringing the Internet into the car. Other technologies will transform instruments, displays and controls allowing for a new level of functionality.

Interactive Human Machine Interface (HMI) functions make new communication channels between humans and cars possible—and natural. Devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart watches and cameras have become omnipresent in our everyday lives, and are being integrated into the car in new ways. This fusion is accelerated by more powerful computers and increasingly intelligent software, resulting in evolutionary leaps that are destined to transform the automobile.

Bringing gesture control to mass production cars

The Golf R Touch concept car that was shown at CES 2015 was the first production-based Volkswagen to feature a gesture control system. With the introduction of the e-Golf Touch, Volkswagen presents a more advanced generation of the Modular Infotainment Toolkit (MIB) and for the first time, an early series-production preview of this new intuitive control technology. The e-Golf Touch features the latest version of MIB with a 9.2-inch high-resolution display (1280 x 640 pixels). All functions and displays are embedded in a sophisticated, clear glass surface.

Facing the driver are four touch-sensitive buttons (Menu, Home, Car, App) and a push-rotary switch. The system’s 8.2-inch wide and 4.1-inch high home screen consists of a large main area as well as two configurable tiles on the right of the home screen. Each tile area, sized 1.7 inches high and 2.4 inches wide, can be assigned any of ten different functions. They can include Media (including cover art) or phone (including photo caller ID). It is also possible to drag the main area out to fill the entire home screen, displaying the full navigation map or smartphone integration platforms such as MirrorLink™, Android Auto™ or Apple CarPlay®, through Volkswagen’s Car-Net® App-Connect interface.

The e-Golf Touch also marks the debut of Volkswagen’s latest generation voice control technology. This system offers significantly improved controls, as voice commands are displayed on the screen to accompany the request. This new version of the voice control system will be launched in the early summer of 2016 in Europe.

Volkswagen will also be the first manufacturer to present a new “Keyword Activation” voice recognition function in the e-Golf Touch. This feature allows the driver to start voice recognition simply by saying “Hello Volkswagen”, or similar, to the system. This eliminates the need for physical activation.

Wireless Charging

In the context of electric cars, we typically think of inductive charging as related to the car’s battery. But in the case of the e-Golf Touch, this process refers to smartphones and similar devices, as Volkswagen has integrated an inductive charging system into the mobile phone tray, under the infotainment system. For the first time on a Volkswagen model, it is also possible to wirelessly charge smartphones in the back seats, via the rear armrests. The e-Golf Touch is equipped with a new USB Type C port, permitting high-speed USB data transfer while simultaneously charging the phone. This feature drastically reduces the time it takes to recharge.

Electronic Voice Amplification

The electronic voice amplification used in the e-Golf Touch improves in-car acoustics, making it easier for the driver and front-seat passenger to talk to back-seat passengers. The system uses the hands-free microphone in conjunction with the rear speakers. The volume of the electronic voice amplification is also automatically adjusted to suit the speed of the vehicle. If the music volume is very high, the volume of the electronic voice amplification is reduced.

Next-generation connectivity

The range of functionality for the Exit Screen will increase considerably with this new infotainment system. For the first time, the exit screen will offer personalized, simplified access (one touch) to functions relevant to the real world, in real time. This makes it possible, for example, to program the auxiliary heating system within a matter of seconds, as the infotainment system displays the predefined settings for a predetermined length of time. Volkswagen will offer the Exit screen functionality in all future generations of vehicles. An individually configurable entry screen is also currently under development.

Personalization 2.0

The number of convenience and assistance systems and the associated range of configurability increases with every new vehicle generation. Many of these systems are individually adjusted, and used by different drivers of the same car. Invariably, this means that settings have to be constantly reset. Volkswagen conceived Personalization 2.0 to solve this challenge. This allows individual settings for one driver to be saved in a user account, then saved to the cloud via Volkswagen Car-Net ID.
If that driver then gets into another compatible Volkswagen, they can simply load his or her Car-Net ID settings in the infotainment system, activating them in the new vehicle. This effectively means that drivers will always have their own individual settings with them, which is especially handy for use in rentals, company cars, or even within families. Using the Volkswagen Car-Net ID app also makes it possible to change your settings in your user account and save the updates to the cloud. The app can be used to familiarize users with a new Volkswagen in advance. All user data is protected against unauthorized access by utilizing advanced third-party encryption and can be deleted quickly by accessing the app.

Media Control, Generation 3.0:

Volkswagen Media Control is the rear-seat entertainment system of the future. The app allows control of almost all infotainment functions through a tablet device. Simply connect a tablet via the vehicle’s WiFi hotspot, and passengers are able to control various features such as the radio, all media sources (USB, CD, DVD, hard drive, online song search) and factory-installed navigation. This third generation of Media Control will launch this summer in Europe, and adds several additional features, including:

Video streaming between tablets.

Remote control of the media that is playing on tablets via the infotainment system. This makes it possible to play a film simultaneously on two separate tablets in the back, which a great feature for traveling with children.
Audio streaming a playlist via tablet or smartphone to the infotainment system (synchronized audio playback via the vehicle’s speakers). The current playlist can be customized by all in-car users of the app, via compatible devices.
Car-Net App Connect and WiFi: Volkswagen Car-Net® App Connect is the brand’s advanced smartphone integration platform that allows for seamless integration from your device to the vehicle. When linked to the infotainment system, the Telephone app can be used—via the system’s touchscreen—with a graphic interface that mirrors that of the smartphone being used. Similarly, the voice control which is available on several smartphone operating systems, map or music apps can also be used in the same manner. Through Car-Net® App Connect and the MirrorLink™, Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® integrated platforms, the system is compatible with most available smartphones currently available. Previously it was necessary to connect the smartphone to the infotainment system via a cable. With Volkswagen’s introduction of the second-generation of Car-Net® App-Connect & WiFi, users can take advantage of wireless smartphone integration. Once the function has been configured, the smartphone can be left in the user’s handbag or jacket pocket. On longer journeys it is, of course, advisable to put the smartphone in the Volkswagen’s wireless inductive charging cradle to supply it with constant power.

Volkswagen Car-Net® Updates: The various online services offered by Volkswagen Car-Net® include the Guide & Inform, Security & Service, App Connect and e-Remote packages. At CES 2016, Volkswagen is showing a number of new programs and add-on features for Volkswagen Car-Net.

Car-Net App Features:

The e-Remote feature, developed for Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid and electric cars, will be reconfigured, and will soon be available for other VW models. As part of this process, the app’s functions are being expanded to be integrated into existing Car-Net® app functions. One of the app’s new functions is named Calendar Import. When information about a destination is imported from your smartphone, the data can be transferred to the navigation system’s Frequent Routes menu, if so desired. From there, the data can be integrated directly into the route guidance. Another new extension is Intelligent Route Planning, where the app calculates an optimal route to several selected POIs. The driver can enter several different stores as POIs in a certain order—for example a dry cleaner, jeweler and a supermarket. The Volkswagen Car-Net App will then automatically suggest the best and most efficient route and sends it directly to the infotainment system.

-- Press release courtesy of Volkswagen

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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