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aXiom – a first of its kind Human-Machine Interface Chip designed for the automotive industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HMI4auto (aXiom – a first of its kind Human-Machine Interface Chip designed for the automotive industry)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2022-03-31

The HMI4auto project’s overall objective has been to optimize, develop and industrialize our product family of four aXiom silicon chips. These aXiom chips support touchscreen solutions with display sizes ranging from 5” to over 35”. Successfully implementing and executing the HMI4auto project will qualify TouchNetix as a full-range supplier of touchscreen Human-Machine Interface chips (HMI) for the automotive industry.

Road and traffic accidents are a major concern and a public security problem with a heavy financial burden for both global and national economies. Driver distraction is a growing problem responsible for 10-20%, due to the increasing connectivity and automation in current vehicles leading to higher levels of both qualitative and quantitative information that drivers need to deal with while driving. To avoid distractions, the automotive industry needs to develop new and more intuitive HMI combining complementary technologies such as advanced functionalities in touchscreens, voice recognition systems, and head-up displays. Safety-enhancing functionalities for touchscreens are requested by the automotive industry, such as 3D proximity, 3D hover, 3D surface guided touch, force sensing, and haptic feedback.

Our innovative and market disruptive aXiom chip products have been developed from inception using a new holistic approach tailored for the automotive market requirements. aXiom enables the following value-adding features: 1) up to 30 times higher Signal-to-Noise Ratio, enabling distance sensing, specifically; a) 3D proximity detecting the driver’s hand or finger at 10-15 cm outside the screen that triggers the user interface (UI) to change or add relevant menu selections; b) 3D hover detecting the driver’s finger 5-6 cm above the screen and identifies its position, for the UI to highlight or enlarge an icon/symbol or a key; and c) 3D surface touch allowing touchscreens to be built using finger-guiding overlays or curved displays. 2) closed-loop haptic for low latency user feedback, optimized for automotive use; 3) force sensing providing a two-level touch system where icons are activated only after a certain pressure and intent are applied. 4) wide support for larger touchscreens; 5) freedom in display design and flexible aspect ratios (e.g. 1:1 - 16:10 - 15:1).

The HMI4auto objectives have been to bring the first TRL7 prototype of aXiom to full market readiness (industrialisation, qualification (to TRL8; WP1-2), expand the product portfolio to four aXiom chip products (TRL8; WP1-2). aXiom has been verified in an operational environment (to TRL9; WP3)) following technology validation in a real automotive OEM program. A wide range of market maturation activities planned in WP4 were conducted while our experienced management team has overseen the full project implementation and assure the objectives are reached (WP5).
During the HMI4auto project's work packages 1 and 2 (WP1 and WP2), we have expanded our product portfolio to a family of aXiom chips to cover all relevant Automotive and Industrial screen sizes and systems for the foreseeable future. We have also done a complete characterisation of the products, generated the necessary documentation required for our customers to use our products as components in their applications, and demonstrated that our technology can be qualified according to the Automotive Electronics Council’s AEC Q-100 Grade 2 reliability standard.

Piloting activities have been carried out in WP3 in cooperation with our pilot partners. This has allowed us to test and use the results from the project in a production environment. As part of the piloting, there has also been training and dialogue with end users. The results have successfully been reviewed and evaluated against specified requirements and expected performance levels.

Through the completion of the industrialisation of our products, we have been able to deliver fully qualified products to an end user. This has further enabled us to validate that the final cost of manufacturing and the market price of our products are greatly in line with our expectations. Some modifications to the model has been incorporated based on this learning.

The results that have been generated during the project has put us in a position with a complete product portfolio, qualified to the level required by the Automotive and Industrial markets, ready to be leveraged to a broader customer base. During the last year, we have built up a significant pipeline of customers, both in the Industrial and Automotive markets.

In line with industry practise, the detailed technology description of our aXiom chips and solutions is only provided to our customers under a confidentiality agreement, and not publicly available. However, at a higher level, the aXiom technology and solutions are described by product demonstration videos at: https://www.touchnetix.com.
With the positive customer feedback and strong customer engagement, we experience that the request for safety-enhancing and more intuitive touchscreen HMI solutions from the automotive industry is genuine. We have completed the product portfolio of four unique aXiom chips covering a wide range of touchscreen display sizes and formats. TouchNetix is now progressing multiple real automotive projects towards launch and mass production at the OEM. Ultimately, the first real-life and launched to end-market cars will showcase the enhanced safety of touchscreen HMI interaction, and thus support reducing driver distraction.

As a parallel track to the automotive business, TouchNetix has developed and showcased a new Touchless User Interface (UI) solution. The Touchless UI is based on the unique aXiom chip technology developed within the HMI4auto project. Public and multi-user touch and touch surfaces can constitute a serious spread of bacteria and viruses. Examples of such touch HMIs are payment terminals, ticketing machines and food/drink-ordering kiosks. The Covid-19 pandemic has highly increased the request for Touchless UI solutions for such products. TouchNetix is currently working with several touchscreen display and solutions providers world-wide to enable the aXiom based Touchless UI for a wide range of industrial and consumer market use-cases.

The TouchNetix Touchless UI solution can be seen on videos at:

https://www.touchnetix.com/touchless-user-interfaces/
Picture of aXiom chips