Automotive touch screen market to boom, predicts IMS

December 04, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The flood of features and functions in automotive infotainment systems drives the acceptance and demand of touch screens in cars, finds a study from market researcher IMS. But in order to implement really complex and sophisticated functions, touch screens are not the best technology.

With more and more navigation and infotainment systems like MyFord Touch being released in the automotive market, touch screens are becoming a common feature in vehicles. With some of the more advanced systems having comparable functionality to a smartphone, automotive touch screens significantly add to driver satisfaction. In its report entitled The World Market for Automotive User Interfaces – 2012 IMS Research forecasts that unit sales of automotive touch screens will increase rapidly in the next eight years to an estimated 35.7 million units globally in 2019.

Asia Pacific will see largest growth when compared to other major regions, with approximately 17.9 million automotive touch screens being sold in 2019. However, in reality, not all systems in Asia Pacific or worldwide will offer the level of functionality associated with a smartphone in the short term. Instead, touch screens with basic functionality are also entering the market, such as the entry level head unit on the Volkswagen Golf VII. These basic type touch screen head units do not offer dynamic features and functions such as apps and connected services.

With all the safety concerns surrounding touch screens in the vehicle, voice command systems are playing an important role in facilitating some of the more advanced functions. Nimisha Patel, analyst at IMS Research commented, “With voice technologies continuously improving, many vehicle manufacturers are now offering natural language speech recognition to create a Siri like experience in the car.” Vehicle manufacturers are using these improved voice command technologies to enhance the user experience and safety of a touch screen head unit. This is especially true in cases where some content is limited when driving over a certain speed.

In order to avoid driver distraction and meet safety requirements applying to driving touch screen systems in the vehicle may offer many smartphone type functions but they cannot be operated in the same manner as a smartphone; instead they will have a much more safety-centric