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Control concepts for Bosch HMIs include OLEDs, haptics and ultrasound.

Your car is talking to the refrigerator

Vehicles are becoming more closely linked to consumer electronics as infotainment systems offer more options and automated driving technologies bring the promise of more free time during travels. Robert Bosch is hoping to leverage its position in vehicle and home electronics as mobility merges and integrates with the Internet of Things.

Automotive suppliers highlighted their latest autonomous-driving and other safety technologies at the 2017 CES conference in Las Vegas, a showcase for both vehicle and home electronics. Bosch demonstrated a range of technologies for cars and motorcycles while addressing consumer demands for a single connected lifestyle.

“The vehicle will play a central role in cross-domain communication,” said Werner Struth, member of the Bosch board of management. “Once highly automated driving becomes reality, the car will be a third living space next to the home and the office.”

Vehicle human machine interfaces (HMIs) are a major element in this evolution. Bosch's latest ultrasonic system enables gesture recognition, when a user's hand is in the right spot to control functions. This can help avoid actions taken when drivers wave their hands while talking. Developed in conjunction with startup Ultra Haptics, it augments NeoSense, a touch-input system with feedback that helps drivers keep their eyes on the road while they’re changing controls. 12.3-in. organic LED displays were also on display, giving developers a thin screen to save space for electronic controls.

Bosch also unveiled a motorcycle HMI that lets riders manage smart phone apps using simple rotary controls on the handlebars. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi link to helmets and phones, muting music during phone calls. The displays now feature bonded glass that reduces reflections and glare.

Smart phones are playing a greater role in automotive HMIs, serving as keys. Codes stored in the phone communicate with the vehicle, unlocking doors and adjusting seats, mirrors and radio settings before the driver climbs in.

Similar capabilities can be provided in cars with a Driver Monitor Camera that uses facial recognition to identify drivers and personalize settings. Driver monitoring—a field known as bio-metrics—is expected to become commonplace as autonomous driving advances. Cameras can tell if drivers are drowsy or distracted in normal driving conditions. When vehicles are in an autonomous mode, this input can be used to determine whether and how to notify drivers when they need to take control of the vehicle.

Connected vehicles can also communicate with home automation systems, adjusting lighting temperature and other parameters when drivers leave or return home. Bosch was among many companies at CES that demonstrated home networking technologies at CES.

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