As part of AUDI AG’s “e-tron” automobile study, the focus of the planning was to be not only on the development of a high-performance sports car with electric drive, but also on a new concept for the interior design.
The aim of the development project was to reduce the conventional arrangement of control elements in the dashboard area and replace it with a multifunctional operating concept. The central control element (Multi Media Interface, MMI for short) of the AUDI e-tron was to be simplified in its operation for this purpose, without losing the familiar variety of functions.
The special challenge for Hoffmann + Krippner GmbH was the limited space available, the guarantee of a safe operation of the MMI, as well as the adaptation of the control unit to the high quality interior of the AUDI interior design.
However, the originally envisaged capacitive solution to the problem could not be implemented because the space conditions did not permit safe operation. In addition, there was a risk of incorrect operation due to accidental contact. After H+K advised the project management, the concept was changed to a resistive solution based on Sensofoil® technology from Hoffmann + Krippner.
By using different Sensofoil® variants, the initial concept of multifunctionality could be maintained. Control commands can now be triggered by a light press and, in keeping with safe operation, provide the driver with tactile feedback of the input command.
The interior concept of the AUDI e-tron is characterized by the almost complete absence of switches and detailed components. Instead of the classic interior, the study has a large display with integrated MMI functions. The MMI can be operated via touch-sensitive control panels on the steering wheel or via a central MMI control element in the center console.
The round Sensotouch® in the center console of the MMI has been equipped with character recognition software so that it can be used to enter telephone numbers, for example. The use of a resistive solution means that the MMI can be operated not only with a finger, but also with gloves or a stylus without any restrictions.
In the steering wheel, Sensofoil® potentiometer surfaces based on FR4 with meander technology and tactile feedback were used to perform the central control tasks for various functions such as volume control or climate control.