Discover the possibilities embedded in In2tec’s ground-breaking Smart HMI Steering Wheel Technology Demonstrator

 In Automotive, Blog, Case Studies, Complex Interface Assemblies, Connectors & Harness Assemblies, Engineers, Flexible Electronics, Haptic Technology, HMI, Illumination, Printed Circuit Board Assemblies, ReUSE, Sensors, Sustainability

Find out how these pioneering capabilities can be harnessed for your Smart HMI applications – achievable with our innovative sustainable flexible electronics.

Our Smart HMI steering wheel technology demonstrator has an array of features and benefits to improve user experience and driver safety. Underpinning this is In2tec’s 20-years+ Smart HMI expertise and our innovation in Sustainable Electronics. Our technology demonstrator showcases the opportunities opened up to HMI applications, made possible with In2tec’s innovative Flexi-hibrid™ & ReUSE® technologies.

Our Flexi-hibrid™ Technology delivers highly reliable Flexible Circuit Assemblies, and our ReUSE® technology is a set of advanced materials, processes and design parameters that allow the low-energy ‘unzipping’ process of Electronic Circuit Assemblies at End-of-Life for unstressed components to be demounted. This enables the recycling of printed circuit assemblies and provides components that are reusable multiple times over.

Features and benefits our technology delivers:

Ultra-thin steering wheel capability – utilises our advanced and patented flexible electronics to offer new benefits for function, ergonomics, aesthetic design, and packaging constraints.

Complex curve construction – built around our flexible electronics and 3D circuit assemblies, a technology that enables a low-profile body with significant concave and convex surfacing not realisable with rigid or semi-rigid printed circuit technologies, such as those implemented using current standard technologies. Our flexible electronic assemblies allow a more free-form approach to the shape of the whole wheel. This means the complex 3D shapes allow for sensors, and the user input interface to seamlessly fit within the complex and limited space of the product, such as a steering wheel assembly. This provides the opportunity to design shapes with every area of real estate utilised, reducing both profile and weight.

The low-profile OLED display – a curved display not requiring the backlit systems of LCD screens. Provides an ergonomic and immersive experience and allows details to be presented to the driver in a non-cluttered manner. Designed as an always ‘up’ LCD display it ensures information remains vertical, for ease of use of the driver, even when the wheel is turned.

With the space reduction gained using our flexible electronics, an LED light bar has been integrated along the top of the wheel to safely communicate the vehicle’s functional state in the driver’s peripheral vision. It communicates rev limits, over-speed warnings, left/right vehicle indicator alerts via diffused ambient light, with output through an array of individually addressable RGBW LEDs.

Proximity detection – all user interface buttons and dedicated sensor areas have inbuilt proximity detectors. Multiple use of proximity sensing delivers a significantly improved user experience. An example is illumination on touch switches represented in half-light when the driver’s hand hovers over them. It means the driver can see and select the required button before pressing it and until proximity detection is activated the buttons are visible only by their surface shaping, so the wheel remains uncluttered to minimise driver distraction.

Backlit capacitive sense buttons with haptic response – with Secret-til-Lit technology the buttons are only illuminated when needed ensuring an uncluttered view for enhanced driver safety. Furthermore, the buttons implemented with driver select options offer full RGB colour, meaning these can be set to match the driver’s interior lighting scheme preferences for personalised aesthetic experience. Tactile feedback through on-board haptic generators provides reassuring confirmation to the driver that the button has been selected and pressed.

Hands-Off detection/Hands-On detection – Multiple sensors dynamic monitoring provides a high-definition view of driver awareness and Hand-off wheel detection. The ability to utilise significantly more real estate for electronic functions in a small space is realised in multiple sensor capability. In the case of a steering wheel, the requirement for Hands-Off recognition is provided by a combination of capacitive proximity sensing, camera evaluation, plus integrated heart rate sensors. The driver’s heart rate trace and pulse rate are also depicted on the OLED display offering information on the driver’s physiological state. Furthermore, capabilities for existing and future safety and legislation requirements are delivered. The integrated light bar provides visual safety alerts for driver awareness, with red warning lights to indicate the Hands-Off status.

Hi-resolution ultra-compact camera – an integrated inbuilt micro camera provides the hub for driver safety management systems. The integrated full-colour, high-resolution micro camera has CMOS image sensor technology.

Driver recognition – using the integrated camera and driver recognition technology multi-user setups are taught through in-built facial calibration. Enabling identification of the driver, information is provided to set driver-vehicle preferences and vehicle security support automatically.

Overall, our sustainable flexible electronics solutions have enabled us to push the boundaries in what is currently possible in automotive design with traditional methods.

This innovative, Smart HMI steering wheel technology demonstrator shows the incredible possibilities for engineers and designers, using our advanced and patented electronics for design, functionality, and style. Our fully recyclable flexible and flexi-hibrid™ electronics technologies include our commitment to providing materials, design models, and manufacturing methodologies that allow a truly circular economy and a positive impact towards achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions.

This technology demonstrator shows the opportunities for automotive designers in consideration of in-vehicle electronic interfaces, but moreover is to showcase what In2tec’s unique capabilities and innovative sustainable electronics technologies can offer any application for HMI, across market sectors.

To find out more about the possibilities presented by In2tec’s Smart HMI technology contact a member of our team today.

T. + 44 (0)1536 419200 (office hours GMT: 8.30am-5.00pm Mon-Thurs; 8.30am-2.30pm Fri)


🔔For further updates on our innovative OMSE™ Technology follow our In2tec Ltd Showcase: Smart HMI page🔔

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