1/27/2011 | 1 MINUTE READ

Siemens VDO’S Innovative Controls

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

The "EasyControl" controller prototype from Siemens VDO Automotive Corp.

Share

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

The "EasyControl" controller prototype from Siemens VDO Automotive Corp. (Auburn Hills, MI; http://usa.siemensvdo.com) is just that when it comes to providing input for such things as entering phone numbers or addresses into a telematics system. It places a laptop-style touchpad on the top surface of a tactile feedback control knob similar to the one used for BMW’s iDrive system. The pad allows users to quickly enter letters or numbers by simply tracing them out with a finger rather than having to select them from a list on a screen. Once a character is entered, the system reads it back to confirm the selection. Operators can also invent custom characters and use them as shortcut commands. The main advantage of EasyControl is that it keeps drivers’ eyes on the road, but with voice recognition systems steadily improving it may turn out to be a clever technology in search of a purpose.

Another idea from Siemens VDO is a dual-zone HVAC system that knows whether the driver or front passenger is operating the controls. Here’s how it works: whenever the driver or passenger touches the HVAC control knob to make an adjustment, the person’s body makes a weak electrical connection between the metal knob and the sensor net in the seat. While the electrical current transmitted is not enough to be noticeable, it is enough to tell the system who the operator is so it can make adjustments accordingly. According to Winfried Moll, director, electronics engineering, using this method would allow automakers to get a dual-zone HVAC system for about the price of a standard single-zone since only one control unit is needed. Another benefit is that the single control reduces clutter and frees up highly coveted real estate in the middle of the instrument panel. And since it utilizes the existing seat sensor array already fitted for use with smart airbags, there is no additional cost at that end. One downside for potential customers who are women or female impersonators: it doesn’t work through artificial fingernails.—KEW

RELATED CONTENT

  • 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

    The Mazda CX-5 first appeared on the scene in 2012, and for 2017, the vehicle has undergone some major transformations, to enhance what was already a notable small crossover.

  • Breaking Down the Chevy Bolt

    Sandy Munro and his team of engineers and costing analysts at Munro & Associates were contacted by UBS Research—an arm of the giant banking and investment firm—and asked whether it was possible to do a teardown and cost assessment of the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

  • 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue

    A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.