CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is mostly about new phones ( have you seen the Nokia Lumia 900? ), tablets, and other consumer electronics. Automotive brands like Mercedes-Benz and Ford though, have understood the need to present to consumer the advances they’ve made in automotive electronics and how they make life easier for the driver and occupants.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars explains : “Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas there are some people who view the automobile as an accessory to consumer electronics. Conversely, at the auto show in Detroit there are many people who view consumer electronics as mere trimmings for the car. Both points of view miss the point: as much as a smartphone can be far more than just a tool for communication, a smart car can be more than just a means of transportation. Precisely at the interfaces between communication and mobility, vast potential for innovation lies dormant, and we intend to tap it,”

DICE (Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience)

There are two facets to DICE. Augumented Reality and gestures based control. As you would expect, the windshield is the system’s canvas to paint on, and a heads up display projects the information on to the windshield.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012 : Augmented Reality

Vehicles approaching intersections will be virtually superimposed on the windshield to enhance the driver’s situational awareness. Augumented Reality, a term often used today, is simply a view of reality enhanced with digital elements, mostly interactive and manipulable. Here the system recognizes the vehicle, and highlights the position of the vehicle/s approaching the intersection and enhances the driver’s awareness of the situation. In addition to digital information about the actual vehicle surroundings, points of interest, friends, pedestrians are also presented on the windscreen.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012 : Friends in the vehicle's surroundings
A gesture based control system, is used to interact with the information presented on the windscreen. The gesture based system, provides a control experience far more flexible and less time consuming than a simple touch screen interface.

With the DICE (Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience) demonstration, at the CES 2012 Mercedes-Benz provides a vision of the interactive, intuitive and simultaneously safe operating experience.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012 : 3D City

It would seem the time has come to say goodbye to elaborate, complex, multi level menu systems. Mercedes-Benz presents a world first context-dependent, place-related presentation, as ‘an information swarm’ of the menu contents of the infotainment system : “Media”, “Social” and “Places”.

Under “Social”, for example, friends from one’s social networks are shown in the 3-D city arranged underneath. The same goes for “Places”, where the personal points of interest like restaurants or movie theaters can be stored. 3-D gestures and the swarm permit dynamic and intuitive control.

What does all this translate to?

For example, when one drives past a club, by a simple movement of the hand one can transmit the music playing there by live stream into one’s car. In the same way, local news from social networks, about points of interest, buildings or localities can be retrieved, or news can be left for others.Vehicles approaching intersections will be virtually superimposed on the windshield to help avoid possibly hazardous situations. To simplify the search for a parking space, mobility concepts like car2go or network information, can be used to proactively identify spaces which will become vacant soon. These are virtually displayed on the windshield, showing the actual environment.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012 : Gesture Based Controls

The level of social integration being displayed by automotive manufacturers, though welcome, is bound to raise the question of safety. A gesture based system does make sense as opposed to plonking a touch based tablet on the central console, but we do wonder about the legal hurdles, what with all the proposed measures in various countries to stop people from making calls, even if you are using handsfree methods.

Mercedes-Benz showcases DICE at CES 2012 : Heads Up Display