A look into the wider ecosystem

The arrival of internet, bluetooth and other computer networking systems to production  cars has really changed the game. Now your car is connected to your mobile, your computer, your smartwatch as well as to a wider information network.  

With all this to take in, a team here at North took on the task of exploring how far this new-found potential can take us. We will be taking you through a four-part research series on the design of in-car human–machine interfaces (HMI). Join us for the first stop on this tour.

Remote control car

More and more brands are adopting digitalization and entering the world of connected cars. The base of which are mobile applications that analyse the operation of the vehicle, allowing the user to see the status of the car whilst not actually being in the car itself. Other features such as the cars doors, windows and interior temperature can conveniently be controlled from anywhere.

Complete control

Once upon a time drivers were content to simply tune into the radio whilst driving. Those days, as we all know, are long gone. Now HMI systems offer an entire ecosystem of built-in and connected features. 

These include audio and radio players with the intelligence to connect to external platforms such as Spotify, browsers connected directly to Google and an array of video content to keep the young ones occupied. Furthermore, the user can now access real-time driving data, vehicle settings, climate control, charging status and phone calls directly from the interface.

HMI_1_4_6 (Medium)
HMI_1_4_4 (Medium)
HMI_1_4_1 (Medium)

Two-way street

As we look towards the future, the car and the driver are experiencing an evermore symbiotic relationship. As the connected system extracts the vehicle’s data, that in turn is delivered to the smartphone for analysis at a moment of convenience.

The vice versa is also possible. Update notifications and personalised offers sent to users, as well as direct contact with dealers, workshops, gas stations and charging stations are also available. GPS can locate your car in case it slipped your mind exactly where you parked. We’ve all been there.


Cruise control

Ease of use and an intuitive interface are the cornerstones of any well designed UI. The terminology and language of the automotive world can be complex and confusing at the best of times, for this reason only the relevant information for the user is displayed, and in well managed bite-sized chunks.
The UX also plays an important role, as users should feel comfortable and at home navigating. The car-user connection has crossed-over to many devices and platforms, gaining access to features and relevant information for example from your smartwatch


UX Design
Visual Design