Concept to reality – In2tec’s game-changing Steering Wheel Technology Demonstrator
Our vision – to showcase In2tec’s USPs in the design and manufacture of Flexible Electronics that in application, address packaging constraints, permit multiple functional features within limited space, provide new ergonomic opportunities, whilst improving sustainability and gaining weight-savings.
To allow for ground-breaking possibilities in vehicle control systems, building on the latest in sustainable flexi-hybrid technology and underpinned with highly recyclable electronic assemblies, our low-profile steering wheel technology demonstrator utilises advanced and patented flexible electronics that address function, aesthetic, and packaging constraints.
- Concept to reality
We started with a concept, designing a steering wheel allowing the driver to perform multiple functions within a finger stroke of their driving position without overloading their visual environment. We wanted to create a technology demonstrator showcasing what is truly possible within Smart HMI. With diverse strengths in innovative research and development, plus a passion for pushing technical boundaries in both design and manufacturing, we evolved this concept to reality.
- Construction of the wheel
We began with the construction of the wheel, we knew that we wanted the steering wheel to be an ultra-thin ergonomic design, with a free-form approach. Utilising our flexible electronic circuit assemblies allowed us to achieve a level of concave and convex surfacing not achievable with rigid or semi-rigid printed circuit boards. The ability of In2tec’s technological breakthroughs of durable flexible electronic solutions provided for a low-profile wheel as we utilised every area of the real estate of the shell.
- Latest technologies in manufacture and design
Having identified the Smart HMI technologies we wanted to showcase within our steering wheel, implementing In2tec’s flexible electronics meant that we were able to form the circuits into complex 3D shapes. These shapes allowed for sensors and the user input interface to fit seamlessly within the complexity and limited space available within the steering wheel assembly, not realisable using traditional methods.
The icons and button graphics remain invisible until needed, when illuminated from behind in subtle blue light. This ensures that the wheel remains uncluttered whilst giving maximum flexibility for user control options.
The reduction in space required for the electronics allows more creative illumination around the steering wheel, with our innovative LED lighting, integrated with capsense and ‘Secret-til-Lit’ technology providing for functional vehicle alert states as well as aesthetic lighting to improve the driver experience.
Utilising In2tec’s flexible electronics allowed for the inclusion of an ergonomically curved LCD display mounted off the wheel, with an ‘always-up’ display, allowing the detailed information to be safely visible to the driver. Integrated with the driver awareness functions through a micro camera, it also provides the hub for driver-vehicle preference settings and management systems.
We identified the need for shift paddles to be easily legible, ultra-thin, and low energy, which we integrated into the steering wheel aligned to its thin ergonomic design. We identified E-paper as an ideal solution for gear and clutch shift levers to provide ultimate information on the status of operations like gear change functions, and other user-programmable requirements such as infotainment functionality.
Underpinned by In2tec’s 20-years+ Smart HMI electronics expertise and the company’s commitment to innovation in sustainable electronics, the steering wheel demonstrator showcases the opportunities provided to HMI applications across all sectors, via the incorporation of In2tec’s innovative flexi-hybrid technologies.
Our capabilities – driven by our design philosophy that “nothing is impossible”
At our core, everything we do is underpinned by the belief that “nothing is impossible.” To this end, we have developed a strength that allows us to bring together disparate and often conflicting design requirements, to provide systems and solutions that offer greater efficiency and better ergonomic design, through the breaking down of design and barriers and solving the most challenging problems.
More to come on this next week … To keep updated follow us at https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/in2tec-ltd-smart-hmi
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