Volkswagen is introducing new software and hardware into series production on its Golf model, to enhance the operation of its infotainment system. For example, VW claims that the voice control now responds up to four times faster and numerous customer requests have been addressed with the update.
“This major infotainment upgrade underscores the Golf’s standing in the compact segment,” said Thomas Ulbrich, member of the board of management for Volkswagen passenger cars with responsibility for development. “The advances in terms of usability and performance give our customers the very highest level of convenience.”
The most notable new feature is the addition of voice control. The system’s natural voice algorithms are said to be able to understand freely worded phrases from day-to-day life such as “I’m cold” or “Where can I find a Japanese restaurant in Berlin?” Thanks to digital microphones, it also recognizes whether the driver or the passenger is speaking: this means it can activate the vehicle air conditioning specifically for the person making the request, for example.
The improved voice control will, states Volkswagen, enable the customer to operate the entertainment, navigation, telephone and climate control and the comprehension rate has improved substantially, now reaching a level of around 95%. The new software also makes do with fewer system interfaces than before, making it easier to additionally integrate intelligent online functions such as news or weather reports in the future.
Voice control responses and reactions are now said to be as much as four times faster than before. It takes less than five tenths of a second to process an online request on the server, and the feedback arrives in the car in less than a second.
Another area in which VW says the in-car infotainment has been improved is the touchscreen. For example, following customer feedback, when a user’s finger comes within a few centimeters of the screen, the buttons around the hazard warning light switch are blocked. As soon as contact is made between finger and screen, this block is then extended to include the sliders for volume and temperature. This means that unintentional activation of the control panels below is much less likely. The control of the capacitive display itself remains unchanged: a light touch is enough to activate the given function. What is more, additional infrared proximity sensor technology enables gesture control from several centimeters away.
The infotainment upgrade in the Golf is based on the modular infotainment matrix (MIB3), which has also received numerous improvements. VW notes that the software optimizations are now focused even more on typical customer applications, the original system having been greatly compressed for this purpose. The result is a reduction of the base load and therefore enhanced performance for programs and functions.
On the hardware side, the MIB3 now features a more powerful System on Chip (SoC). Its central processing unit (CPU) comprises four cores plus the graphics card and the digital signal processor for audio. The new chip unit offers about 25% more computing capacity, while the graphics card triples performance.