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On Electronics - July 2013

Visteon’s “HABIT”; TI's Touch Sensor; Setting A Standard, Saving Energy

Visteon’s “HABIT” Knows Your Digital Habitat 

Amazon suggests books for you based on past purchases. Net-flix does the same based on what you’ve ordered. It’s not so crazy for your car to follow suit when it comes to serving up cabin preferences. 

Or so is the thinking for Visteon’s (visteon.com) new Human Bayesian Intelligence Technology (HABIT) cabin concept, which does more than recommend entertainment—although it does do that, too. In fact, it manages a variety of cabin functions such as temperature, music, route suggestions, phone call patterns—based on algorithms that “learn” from your past preferences. 

“The goal of HABIT is to become an experience that improves each time the driver uses the ever-aware system,” said Shadi Mere, innovation manager at Visteon. “With vehicle manufacturers striving to deliver a more personalized driving experience, the HABIT cockpit concept demonstrates how your car can learn and grow with you over its lifetime.”

The concept also would pick up on the driver’s preferences, even when the car is empty. For example, HABIT theoretically could access the driver’s online music library or Internet radio tastes. 

Sound creepy? Perhaps not to consumers already accustomed to artificial recommendations. Visteon says more than 70% of respondents had a positive initial reaction to the HABIT concept in a recent research clinic. (The company did not release the sample size.) Survey takers reported that they liked voice shortcuts (similar to what they experienced on their smartphones), and the “anticipatory learning” that underlies HABIT, at least in concept. Visteon’s cockpit concept also incorporates a graphical and animated interface to improve interaction with mobile devices.

Incidentally, “Bayesian” is in reference to the 16th century mathematician Thomas Bayes, best known for his theories on probability. 

Visteon’s HABIT cabin system is designed to learn from the driver, even when the cabin is empty.


TI's Touch Sensor

Noise, vibration and harshness are the targeted prey of automotive engineers in nearly every part of the vehicle. But, taken in moderation, those qualities are exactly what you want when it comes to feedback from touch screens in the car. 

Texas Instruments Inc. (ti.com) has introduced a piezo haptic driver for high-definition consumer, automotive and industrial touchscreen applications. The driver enables a faster haptic effect response time and a more realistic HD tactile experience. That makes it possible to help touch screens mimic surfaces or effects. For instance, said TI, users will experience plucking guitar string, turning a page, 
or pressing characters on a keyboard. 

The DRV2667 has a digital interface, integrated 15-V to 105-V boost converter, power diode, and 40-V to 200-V peak-to-peak (Vpp) fully-differential amplifier. When combined with an external inductor together, TI says the unit is 10 x 11 mm, or less than half the size of competitor solutions, which need to be mated with an external transformer and other discrete components. The unit also includes an I2C controlled digital playback engine, freeing up the main processor from generating haptic effects. 

It’s available in 20-pin, 4- x 4- x 0.9-mm QFN package.

 

TI’s piezo haptic driver is designed to turn a touch screen into a digital canvas of touch feedback effects.


Setting A Standard, Saving Energy 

Volkswagen Group will chair the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (eembc.org), which consists of 11 automotively inclined chip makers seeking an energy-efficiency benchmark for microcontrollers.

The current project builds on AutoBench, EEMBC’s first-generation automotive benchmark suite, which measures the required processing power for CPUs to complete specific algorithms. The new benchmark suite adds tests of the microcontroller: it measures the power consumption of the CPU and peripherals under various loads, the amount of time that it spends in low-power modes under various CPU/peripheral loads, and the time required to wake the MCU from its various low-power states to resume processing.

The 16-year-old industry association includes major vendors like Freescale (Freescale.com), Fujitsu (Fujitsu.com), Infineon (Infineon.com), Microchip Technology Inc (microchip.com), NXP (nxp.com), Renesas Electronics (Renesas.com), STMicroelectronics (st.com), and TI (ti.com). Thus far, the group has settled on a working specification for measuring performance and energy efficiency of automotive microcontrollers under a variety of low-power operating conditions. That spec has been tested on several semiconductor prototype evaluation boards, according to the EEMBC.

“Following completion of this new benchmark suite, we will demand the Tier 1 suppliers and semiconductor vendors to provide results for the microcontrollers that will be integrated into the next generation of electronic modules,” said Volkmar Tanneberger, Volkswagen’s head of electric and electronic development.

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