Simplifying menu structures can reduce the operational effort and cognitive cost for the users. (But here again, design simplicity does not necessarily go hand in hand with higher intuition, as some Tesla drivers have proven, taking too much time searching for and controlling something as basic as windshield wipers, ultimately leading to the crash of their vehicle ²).
Finally, context is key. Considering the cultural background and emotional state of users is of utmost importance. A businesswoman who regularly commutes using highways might want to make sure, she takes the fastest route and can take a couple of calls on the way. A family on a holiday trip on the other hand might want to take a scenic route and listen to some music, to occupy the kids in the rear. The businesswoman might be more relaxed, because she knows the route; the driver in the family scenario might under more stress because of unknown routes and the commotion inside the vehicle. These are very different contexts and emotional states; important factors to take into account in the development phase. This sounds quite obvious but there is still room for improvement and OEMs are considering this fact more and more, as we will see in the next part.
Besides cultural background and emotional state, context also encompasses further user journey (a term to describe a user’s experience with a product, from start to finish) aspects. One important part is the use of touchpoints and other elements which are used during the journey. Take BMW for instance. A couple of years ago, you could already unlock your BMW X5 with your phone, not using a lock-unlock function, but simply by holding your smartphone close to the door handle. Your phone had transformed into a “digital key”! At the same time, BMW was offering the option to mirror your smartphone wirelessly via Apple CarPlay in your car. Sounds like a great experience! However, the wireless mirroring function was only available for iPhones and the digital key function was only available for android-based smartphones! From a customer point of view an unsatisfactory combination. Since then however, BMW upgraded its game and since this year, you can also use an iPhone as digital key.
This now begs the question: Which HMI can you use to make the in-car experience as intuitive as possible? And how does multimodality come into play?