Audi is forging new paths in its automobiles with its operating and display functions. The latest highlights are the Audi virtual cockpit and the new MMI operating concept. The two high-end modules are available in the Audi TT and TT Roadster as well as in the new R8 and Q7.
The Audi virtual cockpit
The Audi virtual cockpit has a TFT display with a 12.3-inch diagonal and a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels. It displays razor-sharp and highly detailed images. The needle of the tachometer, for instance, is updated 60 times per second for absolutely fluid response. Scrolling operations in lists are based on a physical model that considers such factors as inertia, elasticity and damping. Operating in background with the Audi virtual cockpit is a high-performance Tegra 30 chip by Audi joint venture partner Nvidia.
The driver can switch between two interfaces via a button on the steering wheel. In Infotainment mode, a central window dominates the view – it creates a big stage for the navigation map or for lists related to the phone, radio and media areas. The tachometer and speedometer are displayed as small dial instruments on the right and left. Meanwhile, in a second, classic view they appear approximately as large as analog displays.
The Audi virtual cockpit presents all information in a comprehensive and versatile way – from the navigation arrows and dynamic animations to the graphics for assistance systems. In typical Audi MMI fashion, the display modifies its color scheme according to the main menu selected. For the Media menu, it is orange, for example, while for the Phone menu it is green. Indicators with fixed positions are displayed along the lower border; they show the outside temperature, clock time and odometer readings as well as warning and information symbols.
In the new Audi Q7, the driver operates the Audi virtual cockpit from the multifunction steering wheel. Using the switches on the left spoke, the driver navigates through menus for the on-board computer, audio system, and – depending on the car’s features – for the phone and navigation. Arranged on the right side of the steering wheel are the roller for volume control, the voice dialog button, express phone controls and the skip function for quickly changing the radio station or song. In the Audi TT and Audi R8, text inputs can be made ergonomically by handwriting on the MMI touch pad on the center console.
New MMI touch operating concept
The latest generation of the MMI operating concept makes it very easy to control an extensive range of functions in the new Audi TT, the R8 and the new Q7. User operation follows a flat hierarchy that is based on the driver’s needs. In the large SUV, the Audi virtual cockpit is supplemented by MMI screens on the central, middle display, which extends out electrically from the instrument panel at the system start.
In the Audi Q7, the newly developed MMI all-in-touch terminal on the console over the center tunnel is the control center for operating functions. The driver can enter characters on the large touchpad or perform multi-finger gestures – to zoom in on the map, for example. Each input is confirmed by acoustic and tactile feedback – a click that is also felt on the finger. This lets drivers stay focused on the road.
On the Asian market, the system also recognizes the highly complex characters of Asian languages – it processes over 29,000 Chinese characters (Hanzi), around 7,300 Korean characters and 6,700 Japanese characters. In addition, the MMI recognizes the spoken language simplifications in Latin characters that are widely used in these countries. Alphabets of this type include Chinese Pinyin, Hangul in Korea and Hiragana, Kanji or Katakana in Japan.
In the Audi Q7, the main functions of the MMI system can be accessed by a high-end rotary/push-button control and two rocker switches. The driver can also assign personal favorites to eight user-programmable buttons, including navigation destinations, phone numbers and radio stations.
The innovative MMI search – the central starting point of the new operating concept – makes it easier to find specific songs and input phone contacts or navigation destinations. Intelligent recommendations reduce the number of steps significantly. The driver or front passenger only needs to write a few characters on the touchpad to have the first results displayed. The system can also base its search on the car’s current location, as well as on recent activities such as phone calls and destinations. When searching for a place to eat, for instance, the driver only has to enter the name of the restaurant and the first letters of the city. Then the first hits appear in a results list. Audi is setting another benchmark here.
Two supplemental menus can be used to select key functions of each main group and to intelligently select linked functions and options in the specific context. In Radio mode, for instance, the driver can select the frequency band by choosing the function menu and can access traffic information via the Maps menu. With these functions and options, which are shown according to the context, the driver can get directions to an input destination, display nearby parking places and save the destination to the Favorites list.
Control with natural language
Another highlight is the newly developed, user-friendly voice control system. The driver no longer needs to adhere to predefined commands – the system also understands Chinese formulations from everyday speech, and hundreds of command variations are possible for each function. For instance, from the Phone menu the driver can call a contact just by saying “I want to call <first name, last name> or “Connect me with <first name, last name>.”
In navigation, it is sufficient to input commands such as “Where can I refuel?” or “I am hungry.” or “Drive me to <City, street, house number>.” This user-friendly voice control is also integrated in the Radio and Media menus – a possible command here might be “I want to listen to my iPod.” Online-based voice control with natural language offers a glimpse of the future in this field – along with the on-board database, it also utilizes the services of Audi connect. For example, the customer can conveniently ask about the weather at the destination or search for a nearby fuel station with economical fuel prices.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.