Finnish automotive ecosystem co-creates future driving experience with launch of Origo steering wheel concept


The Origo Steering Wheel concept is designed to improve safety by reducing driver distraction with intuitive controls adapted from mobile device user experiences. It improves the way a driver accesses information, and controls non-driving functions, in the vehicle with intuitive thumb controls accessible with a safe hands-on-wheel driving position. Relevant information is presented in each situation, ensuring the driver can focus on the primary task: safe driving. The concept replaces multiple mechanical controls in different locations with novel, 3-dimensional touch sensors that are integrated in the steering wheel and easily operated by thumb, providing a natural, smartphone-like interaction.

The new Origo Steering Wheel concept is the first joint demonstration and research platform to emerge from the Multimodal In-Vehicle Interaction and Intelligent Information Presentation (MIVI) consortium launched in October 2019. The two-year MIVI research project is coordinated by the University of Tampere and funded by Business Finland. Participants include multiple Finnish companies operating in the global automotive industry.

“It is exciting to see the vibrant Finnish automotive ecosystem actively collaborating on forward-looking concepts. The Origo Steering Wheel will showcase practical applications emerging from the MIVI project and serve as a basis for ongoing experimental research at Tampere University,” said Professor and head of programme Roope Raisamo from Tampere Unit for Computer-Human Interaction.

The Origo Steering Wheel concept has been co-created by Canatu, Siili Auto, Rightware and TactoTek, each bringing their unique expertise to the project:

    Canatu provides its fully transparent Carbon NanoBud (CNB) film -based touch sensors that are integrated into the steering wheel. CNB sensors can be formed and moulded into any shape providing design-freedom and great user experience.

    Siili Auto designs and implements the user interface (UI) of the smart steering wheel. UI and the steering wheel physical form, as well as innovative controls are seamlessly integrated to a unique user experience.

    Rightware is providing its market-leading HMI software tools including Kanzi UI, Kanzi Connect, and Kanzi Maps to enable rapid design, prototyping, and development of intuitive interaction models for this new concept.

    TactoTek applies its Injection Moulded Structural Electronics (IMSE) technology to design and produce smart surfaces that include circuitry, touch controls and illumination in 3D injection moulded designs.

The Origo Steering Wheel concept User Interface (UI) features media, navigation, contacts, climate and cruise control that are all easily controlled from the steering wheel with 3D thumb controls, providing natural, mobile-like user interaction with assisted or semi-assisted cars.

“Billions of people are using their smartphones daily naturally with their thumbs. We wanted to provide the same familiar touch user experience to the tomorrow’s cars. Steering wheels can benefit Canatu’s truly unique, fully transparent and 3-dimensional touch controls enabling less driver distraction. With Canatu CNB, any surface can be made smart, and now we are applying our in-depth expertise in CNB technology to develop smart steering wheels of the future for improved design and functionality,” said Juha Kokkonen, CEO, Canatu Oy.

“The Origo Steering Wheel is a tangible example of the both the broad scope of technology innovation in Finland and our success in integrating those technologies into a compelling, practical solution,” said Jussi Harvela, CEO, TactoTek Oy.

“The Origo Steering Wheel is the first tangible outcome bringing new technologies from the collaboration partners fully in life in the form of integrated and immersive driving experience. We are excited to innovate further and provide even more game-changing UX solutions together with these leading vendors,” explains Väinö Leskinen, managing director, Siili Auto.

“We are excited to see our technology enabling new use cases,” said Tero Koivu, COO, Rightware. “The touch-based gestures enabled by the combination of technologies in this concept will introduce a heightened level of fluidity to user interaction models while also helping increase safety on the road.”

Caption: The Origo Steering Wheel Concept (photo: TactoTek)

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