DS Automobiles: Gesture Control and Luxury HMI

When DS Automobiles were developing luxury concept car the DS Aero Sport Lounge, they wanted to improve driver experience by reducing the use of touchscreens. That made gesture control powered by Ultraleap’s hand tracking and mid-air haptics the natural choice.

Background

DS Automobiles is French car manufacturer Groupe PSA’s premium marque. Its mission is to deliver luxury vehicles where “savoir-faire meets advanced technology”. 

In February 2020, DS Automobiles launched their new concept car, the DS Aero Sport Lounge. The automotive HMI features a central armrest with gesture control powered by Ultraleap’s advanced hand tracking and mid-air haptic feedback technologies.

Gesture control by Ultraleap inside luxGroupe PSA DS Automobile concept car with Ultraleap
Welcoming as well as distinguished, restrained as well as generous, intelligent as well as poetic, DS conceived the DS Aero Sport Lounge as a preview to our future.

Gesture control and well-being on board

For the electric, semi-autonomous Aero Sport Lounge, DS Automobiles were looking to remove buttons and screens, and make the driver experience an intuitive, luxury one. Screens are no longer at the forefront. Elements of navigation and infotainment are projected onto the dashboard while information necessary for driving is shown on the windscreen in augmented reality.

“I asked my team to … reduce the number of screens as much as possible. With a view to absolute well-being on board, it was necessary to limit visual pollution and maximise sustainability.”
Thierry Metroz, Design Director - DS Automobiles

Having worked with Ultraleap to optimize hand tracking and mid-air haptics to suit their vision, the DS design team held an internal showcase of technologies that they felt best reflected the future of in-car human-machine interaction. The response from Groupe PSA decision-makers was overwhelmingly positive.

Both technologies were selected for the DS Aero Sport Lounge project, with Ultraleap's engineers working closely with the brand, design, and user experience teams to deliver the project.

Haptic technology inside a car
The car features a central armrest with gesture control powered by Ultraleap’s advanced hand tracking and mid-air haptic feedback technologies.

By integrating Ultraleap’s automotive HMI technologies, DS Automobiles were able to reduce the use of touchscreens in the car interior. A traditional cluttered dashboard was replaced by two strips across on the whole surface of the dashboard, onto which infotainment and navigation are projected.

Driver and passengers can use mid-air gesture control to interact, without the need for buttons, knobs or touchscreens. Interaction is as seamless, intuitive, and as futuristic as the interior of the car itself.

“Working with Ultraleap on mid-air haptics and gesture control has given us the opportunity to opt for solutions that are both avant-garde and high tech, yet the purely technical element is concealed for the benefit of beauty in the cockpit.”
Thierry Metroz, Design Director - DS Automobiles
Gesture control by Ultraleap inside luxGroupe PSA DS Automobile concept car with Ultraleap
Purely technical elements are concealed for the benefit of beauty in the cockpit.

Premium automotive HMI

Drivers and passengers can control infotainment and navigation by making simple hand gestures in mid-air. As they do so, haptic feedback is projected onto their hand to confirm that commands have been recognised and understood.

Adding haptic feedback to gesture control systems in automotive is proven not only to reduce “eyes off the road” time and mental load, but also results in increases of over 80% in preference scores. In other words, it can be used not only to improve driver control and safety, but also to develop premium experiences.

Easy integration into existing automotive HMI tool chains

Ultraleap’s mid-air haptic technology uses phased arrays of ultrasound transducers to create pressure points and tactile sensation on a user’s hands. For the DS Aero Sport Lounge, Ultraleap worked with PSA to develop a custom array that fitted into the vehicle interior design concept.

DS’s vision of travel as an artform places a high value on craftsmanship and puts visual design at the forefront. This means that advanced technology blocks have to be integrated in a way that focuses on design as much as functionality.

High quality, luxury materials (such as straw marquetry on the dashboard) were key to the DS Aero Sport Lounge’s interior. Different array cover materials were tested and assessed to ensure that the Ultraleap array, mounted in the centre armrest, meshed seamlessly with the vision for the rest of the car.

Gesture control by Ultraleap inside luxury DS Automobile concept car
A custom array of ultrasound transducers was created and different cover materials assessed to ensure that Ultraleap’s technology meshed with the vision for the rest of the car.

Of course, PSA already had their own tools and established best practices for building automotive HMI. Ultraleap worked within this tool chain, adding to existing expertise by feeding in clear, easy to understand haptic sensations, and a system design specific to Ultraleap’s technology that PSA could integrate, understand, and work with independently. Ultraleap also contributed expertise in 3D interactive design, helping the PSA team to bring their vision to life.

“We found it remarkably easy to integrate such avant-garde technologies into our existing tool chain. We were able to work largely independently, while drawing on Ultraleap’s 3D interaction and integration expertise as needed.”
Marie Jaspart, HMI Project Leader - PSA

DS Automobiles “flexes its luxury muscle”

The DS Aero Sport Lounge launched in February 2020, with Car Design News writing, “Parent company PSA’s bid to make the historic DS name feel like a truly standalone new brand took another conceptual step in the right direction with its Aero Sport Lounge” and Top Speed, “Whenever DS flexes its luxury muscle, we should all pay attention.”

Auto Design Gesture control by Ultraleap inside luxGroupe PSA DS Automobile concept car with Ultraleap case study
“The cockpit, with its fluid lines reflecting the aerodynamics of the exterior, sets out a vision that projects authentically into the future.” – Auto & Design

The car will be going on a world tour showcasing DS’s design thinking. Ultraleap is proud to have been a part of bringing the vision of this futuristic vehicle to life, and looking forward to working with PSA going forward to bring Ultraleap’s technology into many more vehicles.

“We are going to continue to work together to have this technology on a production car as soon as possible.”
Thierry Metroz, Design Director - DS Automobiles