Increasingly Complex Infotainment Systems Place Heavy Demands on Drivers and Driver Safety
APR 23, 2018 00:28 AM
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Increasingly Complex Infotainment Systems Place Heavy Demands on Drivers and Driver Safety

Infotainment systems are now standard in nearly all new vehicles. In fact, infotainment displays increasingly control everything from radio stations and volume to thermostat, navigation, cellphone calls. Instrumentation clusters are also rapidly converting from analog dials to digital displays.   Drivers expect that these new display systems are there to make driving easier and safer. Regrettably, just the opposite can be true.
Edge Computing
Serious Risk to Drivers
According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, new vehicle infotainment systems pose a serious risk to drivers. One in three U.S. adults use infotainment systems while driving. Improperly designed in-vehicle displays require more effort from drivers to see and comprehend. The traffic safety study examined both visual and cognitive demands using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. Study participants were asked to use touch-screen and other interactive technologies while driving.
Drivers who used touch-screen infotainment systems took their hands, eyes, and mind off the road for more than 24 seconds. Programming navigation systems took an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete, calling for drivers to take their eyes completely off the road. As many as 23 systems called for high or very high levels of demand on drivers. None called for low levels of demand for the driver’s attention. At just 25 mph, a driver can travel four football fields in the time it takes to enter a destination in navigation. 
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. The infotainment features in most 2017 vehicles are so distracting they should not be used while driving. Current infotainment technologies simply don’t mix well with the demands of safe driving. Researchers hope that these and similar studies will help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems making it faster to interpret content and reducing the distraction demands placed on drivers. 
Reducing “Dwell’ Time
One way to reduce the distraction level of infotainment system displays is to give them the built-in flexibility to reduce dwell time (time to interpret content on the display) during sudden changes in ambient light. Vehicle infotainment and instrumentation cluster display systems are viewed under rapidly varying lighting conditions. Drivers strain to see and rapidly interpret the content in these changing ambient driving conditions because our eyes see color and contrast differently depending on ambient light, age and other factors.  For instance, very bright sun shining on a display can make it also impossible for a driver or passenger to make out the content.   What’s needed is a technology that addresses how drivers perceive the content on the displays. Improved readability in bright light driving conditions can reduce driver display dwell time and increase driver and passenger safety. Conversely, improved readability in dark driving conditions can reduce the cabin brightness, thereby reducing the impact on a driver's night vision to increase safety. 
Improving Readability in Bright and Dark Driving Conditions
What’s needed, some say, is a display technology that can improve readability in different ambient driving conditions and ideally can also adjust to match the age of the viewers eyes. Straining to read display screens takes a driver's eyes off the road that much longer. New category of display technology called “perceptual processing” has recently become available that will improve the readability of automotive displays in bright and dark driving conditions, which limit the length of time a driver's gaze is fixed on the display. This perceptual processing technology can reduce dwell time significantly. If the perceptual technology can also be implemented in software, then this can also enable rapid low-cost integration of this new display improvement technology as it can be OS and GPU agnostic. Automotive display systems that adapt this new form of perceptual display processing technology can also apply the technology to reduce display brightness by 50% or more, which offers the added benefits of reducing power and heat, prolonging the life of display panels, reducing heat dissipation costs and reducing battery drain for electric vehicles.
Early Adopters Offer Solutions
Some car manufacturers have found solutions like IRYStec’s Perceptual Display Platform (PDP) technology helpful in increasing display readability. Mr. SG Kim of Hyundai Motor notes, “We have been working with IRYStec on their PDP technology to improve the display experience and are impressed how we can dynamically and in real time improve readability of content on an automotive display in dark and bright driving conditions making the experience better, but also safer.”
Francesco Biondi, a researcher from the University of Utah, which was commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shares similar sentiments. “Our collaborative research with AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that the latest automotive infotainment systems increase the potential for distraction, by taking the driver’s eyes off the road. Two second viewing time is enough to double the risk of a crash, according to previous research. IRYStec’s approach to improving readability in dark and bright driving conditions can help and has the real potential for improving driving safety.”
Other automotive manufacturers are exploring how this new category of display enhancing technology, perceptual display processing, could also lead to a lower cost display as perceptual technology can increase the “perceived contrast” which in turn could mean meeting the ISO-15008 contrast standard, by using a display panel with lower contrast ratio which is less expensive.
With auto manufacturers in a headlong rush to add captivating digital instrumentation clusters and infotainment systems, displays are becoming larger and more prominent. The goal then shifts to displays that must adapt to the ambient light and to personalizing the viewing experience to ensure readability making driver safer 
About IRYStec
Based in Montreal, Canada, IRYStec Software is a leading innovator of perceptual display processing technology. Providing Perceptual Display Platform (PDP) embedded software solutions, IRYStec enables consumer device and automotive OEMs to revolutionize their display device viewing experience and performance. IRYStec’s technology leadership is complemented by a world-wide Technology Advisory Board actively working with IRYStec R&D resulting in an impressive combined and historical depth of display research expertise. Call: 1 514 227 5132 or email: for more information.


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