Sales of automotive proximity and gesture recognition systems shift into high gear

Having already evolved from knobs and dials, to touch screens and voice recognition, automobiles are on the cusp of a new evolution in user-interface technology, as sales of automotive human machine interface (HMI) proximity and gesture recognition systems rise by a factor of 50 during the next decade.

The global market for automotive proximity and gesture recognition systems that allow motorists to control their infotainment systems with a simple wave of their hand will grow to more than 38 million units in 2023, up from about 700,000 in 2013.

Nearly 40 percent of all new automobiles sold worldwide in 2023 will come with some degree of proximity or gesture recognition, according to a new IHS Automotive report entitled “Emerging Technologies: New Human-Machine Interface Trends,” from IHS. 

“The gesture is a natural method of human communication, one that is used subconsciously in everyday interpersonal communications,” said Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst and manager, automotive infotainment, for IHS Automotive.

“Because of this, gestures can be used in control automotive infotainment functions ranging from navigation to satellite radio with minimum driver distraction. This, and other factors, will cause sales of proximity sensing and gesture recognition systems in cars to undergo a rapid expansion in the coming years.”

Compared to other types of emerging automotive HMI systems, proximity and gesture recognition will prove most valuable to end users and be the most widely applicable across different brands, regions, languages, and cultures, IHS predicts.

Gesture recognition is defined as the use of cameras or sensors to track and convert a user’s movements into inputs for the infotainment system without any physical touch input. This would include things like waving a hand to the left or right to change radio presets or go to the next song in a playlist, or turning the hand clockwise or counterclockwise to raise or lower the volume. 

Proximity sensing is the use of smaller, less expensive proximity sensors, typically infrared technology, to detect the user’s hand or another object approaching the display or control knob.

This technology may or may not understand a gesture but rather the presence of the hand or object in proximity. Proximity sensing can be used to bring up menus on a car’s display with frequently used functions, which disappear when not in use.

Basic automotive proximity recognition systems made their debut in 2012 in cars sold by Cadillac and Volkswagen. IHS predicts the first high-resolution gesture systems will appear in 2017.

The Cadillac User Experience, or CUE, was the first system to offer proximity sensing in a mass-market-production vehicle. A pair of infrared sensors just below the screen can detect when the user’s hand approaches the screen and activates frequently used menus, such as a list of mixed presets and navigation options.

These menus would otherwise clutter the screen if displayed constantly, and the proximity sensors are used to reduce the graphical user interface’s complexity after users have made their selection. 

A similar system has also been deployed on the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf with its midrange and premium display radios and navigation systems. This illustrates that proximity systems will not be reserved for premium brands alone.

Further in the future, newer automotive HMI technologies are expected to emerge, including augmented reality displays. Augmented reality is a content stream projected through a display, primarily head-up display (HUD) systems, that would change or augment the driver’s perception of the road or points of interest ahead. Sales of automotive augmented reality systems in vehicles are expected to start in 2015.

Nissan unveils concept smartwatch

Nissan’s Nismo lab will be showcasing a smartwatch that provides the wearer with both biometric and automotive feedback.

AAP reports that the Nismo concept smartwatch will be displayed today at Germany’s Frankfurt Motor Show. It is Nissan’s first attempt at wearable technology.

"Connectivity is the new battleground for car manufacturers," Chas Hallett, editor-in-chief of What Car? told the BBC.

"In-car internet is coming and now with consumer electronics focusing on watch-based connections, Nissan is getting ahead of the game and joining the two together very cleverly."

The watch is able to display customised data related to a car’s fuel efficiency, as well as on things such as a user’s heart rate and temperature

Nissan is hoping to one day create wearable technology that will detect things such as a driver’s fatigue, emotional responses and hydration levels.

The technology follows recent smart watch releases including Galaxy Gear by Samsung and the Sony Smartwatch 2.

International Business Times compares the Nismo and Galaxy Gear here.

Image: Nissan

Daimler plans to offer self-driving cars by 2020

German auto maker Daimler AG aims to release self-driving cars by 2020. The move is part of an industry-wide race to bring the technology to the market.

The Business Spectator reports that Daimler head of development Thomas Weber said that the company wants to be the first to introduce self-driving technology and aims to do so by the end of this decade.

Daimler is working on highly automated driving technology. Cars using this technology can master tasks like driving on highways and manoeuvring through traffic jams on their own. Then the driver takes over when a difficult situation, such as the presence of multiple pedestrians, comes into play.

According to Weber, the self-driving cars will develop slowly. "Autonomous driving will not come overnight, but will be realised in stages," he said.

For example, at present European Union laws state that drivers must be in control of cars at all times and there is the challenge of having to change drivers’ attitudes to self-driving cars.

Daimler isn’t alone in developing the self-driving cars. For example, Nissan is also aiming to introduce the technology by 2020.

And, as Rapid City Journal points reports, General Motors and even Google are others who are involved with the new technology developments.

Apart from freeing up drivers from the task of actually driving, the technology promises to potentially save thousands of lives. According to David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, human error is currently a factor in as many as 90 percent of traffic deaths in that country.

In addition, it is claimed the technology could help reduce traffic problems on highways, reduce carbon emissions by shortening travel times, and give more independence to the elderly and the disabled.

Kumho hopes RFID will save logistics costs

Tyre company Kumho has teamed up with IT company Asiana IDT to become the first tyre manufacturer in the world to implement radio frequency identification tags in all its commercial, 4×4 and passenger vehicle tyres.

Following a successful trial of the technology in truck and bus tyres throughout early 2013, RFID tags will be embedded in all of Kumho’s tyres in a move to streamline production and distribution as well as heighten quality control.  

Kumho hopes to save $10 million per year in logistics and quality control with the new technology.

According to David Basha, Kumho Tyre Australia’s national training and marketing manager, the technology is another example of the company’s constant innovation.

“Globally Kumho is committed to achieving optimum efficiency from its range of passenger and commercial tyres and this starts from production and distribution,” Basha said

 “The implementation of RFID technology across the entire range is as a direct result of the research and development Kumho continually undertakes to improve the quality of our tyres.”

Radio frequency identification uses radio waves to transmit and receive information stored in uniquely coded tags.

A reader is able to extract the information of a RFID tag from metres away without having to be within line of sight – making it more efficient than a barcode. RFID tags are also capable of holding more data than barcodes.

Currently the technology is used in tracking shipping containers, electronic tolling, motor sport timing, pet microchips as well as a range of other applications.

Each tyre will be able to be tracked by a central database containing information about manufacturing and distribution prior to fitment because of the information stored in the RFID tag.

”RFID technology allows us to easily monitor every tyre that we import and sell in Australia,” Basha said

“In the unlikely event of a defective tyre this technology will mean we can easily identify it and check its full history using the information in the tag,” he added.

The RFID embedded tyres will be available in Australia early next year.

Training through the cloud aids the growth of start up logistics firm

UK-based freight forwarder Neon Freight has been able to successfully launch its operations, thanks to flexible payment and training options provided with ediEnterprise through WiseCloud.

ediEnterprise from CargoWise, a global leader in technology solutions for logistics service providers (LSPs) is helping the start-up company provide a comprehensive range of services including air freight, sea freight, customs brokerage, European road freight and warehousing.

Ian Mallon, founder and Managing Director of Neon Freight has been able to minimise his costs and maximise productivity thanks to the sophisticated document management features and on-demand pricing model offered by ediEnterprise through WiseCloud.

Mallon has previously worked for large multinational companies that used their own in-house systems, as well as off-the-shelf technology, but he has not been able to find a system that could compete with ediEnterprise on price, flexibility or ease of use. He plans to continue to access CargoWise through WiseCloud, as it will keep his costs down and also relieve him of the responsibility of backups and updating.

Accessing software training online allows Mallon to flexibly fit training into his existing work and personal commitments. Additionally, CargoWise’s flexibility is also perfect for Neon to meet its expanding needs.

Simon Clark, CargoWise Vice President Business Development for Europe dispels the perception that ediEnterprise is too big for smaller companies since they work with some of the world’s largest logistics companies. Neon Freight’s adoption of ediEnterprise through WiseCloud demonstrates that CargoWise software is an ideal technology for start-up companies. 


BHP fast tracks iron ore modernisation

BHP Billiton is fast tracking the modernisation of its Pilbara iron ore division, coinciding with the launch of its new remote operation centre in Perth.

The move will also attempt to reduce contractor spending, SMH reports.

BHP's iron ore boss, Jimmy Wilson, will open the ''integrated remote operating centre'' with WA Premier Colin Barnett today.

The centre’s launch adds to the growing trend of mine site automisation and remote control initiatives with mining and logistics work in the Pilbara increasingly being controlled in Perth.

Rio Tinto already runs a similar operation out of Perth Airport and Roy Hill Holdings is also developing a remote operation centre for its iron ore mine, port and rail project.

Earlier this year BHP said it will focus on automated equipment and new technology as it moves toward “next generation mining”.

Rail technology on show

Leading rail infrastructure company Rhomberg Rail Australia (RRA) will showcase three of its high-performance rail maintenance solutions at the Rail Track Association/Railcrop Field Day in Sydney.

The two day event, starting on Wednesday, will be held at the Clyde yards, and will see RRA and other members of the Australian rail industry display the very latest in infrastructure, construction and maintenance equipment.

The company’s Tamping Express, Ballast Regulator and Plasma Surveying System will all be showcased as part of the event.

RRA managing director, Garry Thuer, said the machines are currently being used across Australia’s rail network.

“We will be displaying three of RRA’s technology innovations, which continue to deliver cost-effective, practical solutions to meet the challenges of rail maintenance, condition survey and track and infrastructure management across the Australian rail network,” he said.

In Australia, RRA has helped build some of the country’s biggest and most complex rail projects including BHP Pilbara Rail Line, FMG Pilbara Rail Line and other works for Sydney Ports.


Navman launches fuel usage, CO2 emissions reporting suite

Navman Wireless has recently launched its Fuel Usage and CO2 Emissions Reporting Suite, which can be used in conjunction with the company’s GPS Fleet Management Solution.

The software is designed for businesses with a fleet of vehicles and allows for fuel usage and CO2 emissions of each vehicle to be monitored.

The suite's timely release follows the recently introduced Carbon Tax; a national reform policy that requires businesses to better manage their energy usage and carbon emission production to reduce costs.

The software displays detailed fuel consumption and carbon emissions information through the OnlineAVL2 program, and it allows users to select the frequency of reports and the vehicles they would like included, as well as being able to specify the average cost per unit of fuel for the selected reporting period.

Managers also have the ability to sort reports by vehicle group and individual vehicles.

Any business with a fleet of vehicles is concerned about the introduction of the carbon tax,” said Ian Daniel, Navman Wireless' vice president – Asia Pacific.

“Australian businesses are looking for new ways to minimise their fuel costs and eventually the costs associated with the carbon tax. The good news is we have an affordable yet effective solution to help companies proactively reduce their fuel usage and CO2 emissions and considerably improve their operational efficiency,” he said.

The OnlineAVL2 reporting suite also helps organisations identify patterns to improve driving behaviour, and fuel usage to eventually help reduce their environmental impact.

This allows businesses to identify those vehicles or drivers that are unnecessarily burning fuel by idling or speeding, and they may then work proactively with those drivers to rectify the situation.

“From vehicle utilisation and control of fuel costs through to driver behaviour, organisations are poised to make better-informed decisions, leading to reduced CO2 emissions, improved fuel and maintenance costs, and increased customer satisfaction,” said Daniel.


Image source: Navman Wireless (website)

ICT drives transport and logistics growth

TRANSPORT and logistics companies will place greater emphasis on ICT technologies that deliver productivity improvements or reduce operational costs in 2012/2013, according to a report by IDC. Opportunities for vendors will focus around collaborative technologies, ERP, BI and mobility.

The Transport and Logistics ICT Market Forecast and Analysis 2011 to 2015 identifies opportunities that exist within the transport and logistics vertical of the Australian ICT market, and particularly how the dynamics taking place within this vertical segment are driving innovative use of ICT by the sector. 

"The transport and logistics sector is a critical industry for ensuring the continued competitiveness and growth of the Australian economy," said IDC research manager, Emilie Ditton. "It provides the backbone of passenger and freight services, by road, rail and air that fundamentally enable the economy to function. The efficiency and productivity that this sector operates will directly impact the profitability and competitiveness of the customers it serves."  

The transport and logistics sector contributes 3.5% of ICT spending in the total Australia market, representing $1,629 million in 2012. 

IDC expects ICT spending within this sector will grow to $1,749.3 million by 2015, or 2.8% (CAGR) between 2010 and 2015. Telecommunications and particularly mobility continues to dominate ICT spending in this sector with telecommunication representing 38.7% of spending in 2012.

"The transport and logistics sector has a heavy focus on those technologies that can either contribute to reducing operational costs or increase productivity of staff," Ditton said. "The technology deployment plans within the sector reflect this."

The top technology areas that are to be deployed in the transportation and logistics sector in the next 12 to 24 months are: business analytics, new business applications based on Web 2.0 platform and technologies; desktop virtualisation; service oriented architecture; business as a service; cloud computing platforms; and mobile business applications. 

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