2019 Acura RDX interior—Putting the H Back in ‘HMI’
There’s a reason the “H” is first in “human-machine interface.” Infotainment and display systems in vehicles today are increasingly complex, and designing primarily for the driver’s experience is key to creating a well-designed, safe system. When systems are well-designed, the user is more important than the technology. When the user is more important than the technology, interactions are based on what the user wants to do—not what the technology is able to do—providing a more intuitive and safer driving experience for the user.
In Acura’s 2019 RDX, Honda created an interface based on human factors, design principles, and real user needs, conducting thousands of hours of research with actual consumers. Here’s what the Acura RDX is getting right:
Display Location: The RDX has a center screen mounted high in the console. This puts the display in the driver’s natural line of sight—reducing the amount of time a driver’s eyes may be off the road.
True Touchpad Interface: To achieve the line-of-sight display placement, which is too far out of reach for a traditional touchscreen, Acura developed a unique remote touchpad. The driver interacts with the display through a touchpad located in the natural resting place of the driver’s hand. What makes it unique is the one-to-one mapping; when a driver places their finger on the touchpad, the cursor shows up on the display in the same relative location (e.g., pressing the top left corner on the touchpad highlights the top left corner of the screen). Knowing immediately where the cursor is on the screen allows for quicker, more effortless interactions.
Easy to use digital design and architecture: The system’s visual design is minimal and easy to read with a strong focus on contrast, line weights, and typographic hierarchy. The iconography, based on Google Material Design and ISO norms, helps the user quickly understand available actions. Animation and sounds are used to support interaction and performance, helping the driver navigate and understand the system even during quick glances.
Cohesive and clear controls and information: An effective combination of dashboard gauges and a headup display allow the user to quickly understand important information and actions, consistent with the center display.
To make the driving experience as safe as possible, every effort should be made to reduce confusion. The user should be able to predict what is going to happen and how, both for technology on the road today and autonomous features of the near future.
By designing for the user, the RDX HMI enhances the overall driving experience and, more importantly, reduces driver distraction. With the continued increase in vehicle features and capabilities, this system recognizes that the most important task for a driver when they get in the vehicle is…driving.
Lextant partners with global brands to clarify the path forward for products and services by uncovering consumers’ desired experiences, usability issues, and foundational design principles. Lextant’s research has been proven to reduce development cost and timing, while improving customer satisfaction and overall brand experience. More information can be found at www.lextant.com.