Semiconductor Equipment

Video: Simplifying infotainment system testing

17 June 2022

It’s sometimes said that the way to win someone’s heart is through their stomach, which is a clever way of saying that the sensory experience of good cooking is easy to fall in love with. For car manufacturers, the entry point for winning customers’ hearts may be a bit different — but one prime candidate is the experience of an onboard “infotainment” system.

Such systems can be complex, supporting multimedia user interfaces and functions such as making phone calls, changing vehicle settings and just plain old being entertained. The trend toward ever-larger displays and the increased use of touch surfaces has also decreased the amount of information that can be conveyed to a car’s driver through more traditional, mechanical means; this has prompted the incorporation of haptic and sensory feedback mechanisms.

Not surprisingly, functional testing of these systems’ control units and their networking within a vehicle’s architecture can be challenging at every phase of the product development process. Testing has generally involved complex systems designed to automate human-machine interaction through the processing of camera and display data, electrical control unit communication and mechanical robot operations.

Now, a new modular system for the quality assurance of vehicle infotainment systems from Göpel Electronic combines robot mechanics for operating surfaces with measurement sensors for forces and structure-borne sound. Replacing the passive “finger” typically used for capacitive/resistive stimulation is a voice coil linear actuator — consisting of a carrier and a cylinder with permanent magnet — with an integrated shaft and displacement measuring device. Force and direction of the active part are directly dependent on the direction and strength of the current.

The measuring unit can be supplemented with a structure-borne sound sensor that detects possible vibrations, such as feedback signals from the touch surface. The robot also allows combined sequences of finger and slide movements to simulate various operator scenarios, even if these involve special or curved displays. As a result, all functional and haptic data are available at the time of function execution, allowing electrical parameters and image processing algorithms to be correlated with supplementary haptic classifiers.

Göpel says that its combination of different test technologies allows for a powerful, cost-optimized system for testing infotainment modules.

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