Clear, intuitive display and operating concepts are one of Audi’s major strengths. The brand has further extended its lead in this area with the new A3 family. The compact models – the three-door Audi A3 and the five-door Audi A3 Sportback – showcase a slew of innovative infotainment solutions.
The MMI terminal in the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback
In addition to the voice-activated control system, the MMI terminal also controls the numerous infotainment functions in the Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Sportback. Its key component is a part which combines a touchpad with a rotary pushbutton. The top of the control wheel is a touch-sensitive field.
The MMI touch, which is a solution from the Audi full-size class, works with handwriting recognition. The driver writes letters or numbers he or she wishes to input for navigation or a phone call by fingertip on the pad; the system then provides acoustic feedback after each character. MMI touch will be of special interest to Asian customers, because it can process tens of thousands of characters.
Two rocker switches (“skip buttons”) in front of the touchwheel directly operate the most important areas of Telephone/Navigation and Media/Radio, while a Menu key and a Back key complete the key set. Four softkeys are used to navigate through the menus; a volume control knob, which can be used to skip tracks, complements the MMI user terminal. The menus also have a new layout.
The MMI monitor
Images are displayed on a 7-inch screen in the new Audi A3. Thanks to its very high contrast and resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, it delivers brilliant, pin-sharp 3-D graphics; highly efficient LEDs supply its backlighting.
The monitor extends electrically from the instrument panel and is angled slightly towards the driver. It is a mere eleven millimeters (0.43 in) thick, similar to a smartphone. A special lamination process is used to bond its layer of glass directly with the surface of the TFT screen – leaving no air between the two components, which enhances visual output and ensures the display is very easy to read even in bright sunlight. The painted housing is produced from ultra-lightweight magnesium, which saves about 50 grams (0.11 lb) in weight. High-gloss and chrome highlights accentuate its elegance.
Driver safety at the center of HMI development at Audi
With the global introduction of the MMI touch operating concept in the current generation of the Audi A8 and Audi A6, the brand with the four rings has set a milestone in automotive HMI (Human-Machine Interface) development. The unique opportunity to enter complex data using the intuitive process of writing with a finger has not only gone down extremely well with our customers by being so easy to use but improves active safety.
Thanks to the functional interaction of handwriting recognition and acoustic output of the letters and figures recognized, the system is much more fun to use, the process is faster and the driver’s eyes can remain firmly on the road. In-house driving simulator tests demonstrated an approximately 50 percent improvement in driving quality while performing an operation.
The touchwheel in the new Audi A3 enables us to offer the advantages of this technology for the first time in the compact class as well. But there are also other improvements: the reduction in the number of buttons and the consistent design of what is known as a “haptic landscape” provide the driver with clear orientation on the center console. The two projecting rocker switches provide access to the key functions – such as radio, media, telephone and navigation – and can be found from the central touchwheel without having to glance at them. The same applies to the volume control knob with its integrated joystick as a skip function. Without having to move your hands around, you can jump to the next track or radio station and adjust the volume as required.
For anyone that prefers to interact via voice, a powerful voice control system is naturally also available. You can quickly get to your destination with simple commands or voice entry by stating the city, road and house number in a single utterance. Supplemented by server-based voice recognition services as part of Audi connect, you can also look for Google points of interest using voice commands or even dictate and send (SMS) text messages.
Even though the user interfaces of certain smartphones are designed very intuitively, they nonetheless demand the user’s undivided attention and are not suitable for usage while driving. A recent driving simulator comparison of smartphone and Audi MMI operation (based on the same tasks) reveals an impairment of driving-related variables (average number of times the lane markings were crossed) of up to 800 percent when using the mobile device.
Control and display concepts - outlook
Uninterrupted connectivity paired with safe and low-stress driving is possible only with new approaches to display and operation. Audi has therefore stepped up the pace of its development in this area.
Audi virtual cockpit
Audi virtual cockpit is the instrument cluster of the future. The new technology enables driving, environmental and infotainment information to be tailored optimally to each situation. The driver can decide for him- or herself which of the presentation formats is most appropriate.
The digital display offers virtually unlimited flexibility when arranging and displaying contents. Depending on the driver’s requirements, the focus may be, for instance, on optimum system operation, the best possible route navigation, the explanatory display of active assistance systems or, with a sporty driving style for instance, on the legibility of the instruments.
The Audi virtual cockpit display, whose size and outline are geared to the design of the current instrument cluster, is based on TFT technology. Its high screen resolution provides all content in pin-sharp, brilliant, high-contrast images. High-quality animation, mirror and lighting effects round off the state-of-the-art look. A high-speed graphics processor from Nvidia’s Tegra series works away in the background.
Audi’s underlying operating logic is also retained in the new technology: all the displays and menus are structured in a strictly logical, user-friendly manner. Audi intends to tailor the skin – the digital instrument’s graphical user interface – to the character of its future models; it will become dynamic in the case of a sports car, while it will come across as somewhat more serene with a large sedan. Over the years Audi customers will always have access to new designs and functions.
The 3-D displays
The displays in Audi’s series-production models already boast outstanding brilliant images. Audi will be presenting the next stage at the CES – displays with 3-D technology. A field of small optical lenses on the display breaks the image up into different directions - for the left and the right eye. This creates an impression of three dimensions for the viewer without the need for any 3-D glasses.
Audi will be showcasing the 3-D displays in two different versions. The first version, which features 2-View technology, includes a small camera that follows the viewer’s eye movements. Based on data from the camera, software calculates the image output so that the viewer always sees a perfect 3-D image on the 11.6-inch display.
The second display – also with an 11.6-inch screen diagonal – utilizes Multi-View technology. This permits 3-D viewing from various angles; in other words it can be used simultaneously by several people. The image content is output in 28 different views following a sophisticated computing process.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.