"The experience is becoming more and more centered around not just the performance aspects of a vehicle, but the entertainment, the information, the interactivity and, under appropriate conditions, being able to deliver gaming," Edward Martin, director of product management at Unity, told Automotive News.
"Given the way in which current HMI systems are developed, they're hitting the ceiling really in terms of the level of what customers can experience within a vehicle," Martin added. "The consumer getting into a car today has a different expectation of what could be as opposed to what is."
As a result, many automakers and suppliers are enhancing their displays, not only in size, but also capability.
The system — for which Here and Unity have developed a demo of in-vehicle infotainment as one possible application — utilizes Here's location and mapping intelligence and technology along with Unity's real-time 3D rendering capabilities. Here has mapped more than 70 major cities and plans to eventually map much of the globe.
Any information from the driving environment can be rendered under nearly any condition to display it in a way that is most appropriate for the driver or passenger, Martin said.
For instance, the companies' mock-up shows a widescreen 3D map of a neighborhood in San Francisco. Think driving down the road and every aspect of the outside environment — landmarks, street infrastructure and other map features often noted in navigation systems — can come to life inside the vehicle three dimensionally.
The system can combine that with other infotainment features, resulting in a personalized 3D rendering of one's route plus the gas stations, coffee shops and other important stops along the way.
The challenges, however, lie in anticipating the experiences that drivers and passengers will want going forward, said Marco Tillmann, product manager at Here, as well as in homing in on an automaker's desired branding and experience.
"The design is incredibly important for the automotive industry because for the OEM, the user experience is the brand," Tillmann said.
"That's where you try to make sure that these kinds of implementations not only carry the branding stamp of the OEM and of the automotive industry, but at the same time also allow you to apply them across the board of all the experiences that drivers and passengers experience in the car," Tillmann said.
Unity is no stranger to the automotive HMI ecosystem: The company has partnered with Continental's Elektrobit and NXP Semiconductors.
Unity and Here are working with automakers to bring the platform to market, though it could also hold other applications.
"Expanding beyond the context of a vehicle to all the possible applications outside of a vehicle, mobility and even nonmobility applications, being able to integrate this type of real-time experience with map and location and [point of interest] data, it opens up a lot of potential, for automakers and others," Martin said.