The MMI touch response operating system in the new Audi A6 uses sensory stimuli to optimize human-machine interactions. Haptic, acoustic and visual responses on the two central touchscreens take operation to a whole new level.
State-of-the-art operating concepts are all about digitalization and, despite the highly complex technology behind them, aim for a minimalist look. Touchscreens have become a key factor in achieving that. They certainly are in the MMI touch response operating system integrated into the new Audi A6*.
With this generation, rotary/push-button controls are (mostly) a thing of the past—making this sedan the latest to embrace the progressive concept that has already found its way into the interiors of the new Audi A8 and the new Audi A7.
The top screen, which sports a 10.1-inch display when equipped with the optional MMI Navigation plus, lets the driver or passenger manage the infotainment system. Below it, a second, 8.6-inch display on the center console is used to regulate cabin temperature along with other car and comfort functions. The lower screen can also be used to enter text, either with handwriting recognition or an overlay keyboard. All the components are arranged ergonomically so as to optimize comfort and convenience, especially for the driver.
Intuitive and functional
The functions, too, are designed with ease of use in mind: Controlled by touch and swipe gestures, the MMI touch response technology is as intuitive as a smartphone. Responses are indicated with haptic, visual and acoustic signals. Merely touching the display glass lightly will not activate a function; to do this, the user must gently exert a defined pressure. Confirmation is provided by a stimulus on the fingertip, which is accompanied by a clicking sound. How does the display respond to pressure this way? An electromagnet gives it a slight lateral shift to create the haptic reaction. Lasting mere milliseconds, this shift changes the display’s position by just 0.08 millimeter. The display’s sensitivity can be set to the driver’s choice of three levels—or suppressed altogether.
A new level
In addition, the digital operating system allows operating elements of central vehicle functions to be placed in the desired position on the MMI screen using drag-and-drop. Similar to smartphone apps, many icons come with long-touch or long-push functions. For example, to insert a new tile in the main menu, the driver need only press it for just under a second; then a brief vibration occurs and the tile can be moved. The touch of a finger changes the icon’s color slightly; pressing harder intensifies the color change. Shortcuts and favorites enhance customization options and convenience further still.
Whether haptic, acoustic or visual, the chief benefit of these responses is to improve ease of use for the driver—who, of course, needs to concentrate on the road. Thanks to its sensitivity and sensory stimuli, the MMI touch response operating concept sets a new benchmark, taking touchscreen technology to a whole new level.
Natural language voice control
The new Audi A6 can be optionally equipped with an innovative feature based on natural voice recognition. That means the driver can interact with the system with virtually unlimited freedom. When necessary, the system asks questions, allows corrections and additions, and offers choices. In dialogue with the voice control system, the driver can switch between different menu areas—for example, to call a contact from the phone book and then use the associated address as a navigation destination. The voice control system responds to commands and questions in two ways: from the information stored on-board about preferred destinations and media or from the cloud**.