Next time the warning lights on your car’s dash send you into a tizzy and the automotive gobbledygook in the owner’s manual has you pulling out your hair on the side off the road, try talking directly to you car and have it trouble shoot for you.
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich along with engineers at Audi have designed Avatar-based Virtual Co-driver System (AviCoS) that helps steer distressed drivers in the right direction when problems arise. Displayed in the middle of the dash board, the Audi Multimedia Interface comes standard in all new Audi models.
The avatar is hyper communicative, understands complete sentences and responds to questions in a spoken language. It even has a sensitive side. AviCoS can pick up on tone of voice and speech rhythm to detect if a driver is flustered. If so, the system reduces the amount animated output on the monitor in effort to calm the driver.
On-screen videos and images also help guide driver’s through their questions. With a simple touch, the system’s Touch&Tell Mode provides drivers with extensive background information on unfamiliar car functions.
“This is a tool to explain control elements in an quick and easy, hands-on way. It is particularly useful in unfamiliar vehicles,” Professor Helmut Krcmar, Chair of the TU Muenchen Institute of Business Informatics, said in a press release.
To prohibit drivers from engaging in yet another distraction on the road, AviCoS’ animations and graphics shut down as the car increases speed. However, in this mode, the avatar is still available, albeit only through voice communication.
“Overall, AviCoS provides comfortable and interactive access to multimedia content that goes far beyond the information contained in printed manuals. The self-explanatory system can be used without training, making it easy to get familiar with the operation of a vehicle,” said Dr. Michael Schermann, director of the Automotive Services research group at the Institute for Business Informatics.