At the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) I organized together with Paul Holleis and Klaus Bengler (BMW Group) a workshop on automotive user interfaces. We were surprised how many people work and research in this area in Germany and Austria.
The 9 talks showed a wide range of research results and questions ranging from activity recognition, search interfaces, cultural issues to research methods. Dagmar Kern presented our work on a new method for interviewing drivers at the gas station. Stefan Graf from BMW groups had an interesting demo on object oriented interaction and in-car text input.
In the final session we discussed on future challenges of automotive user interfaces and it seems that it is a great challenge as cars are very emotional products. One interesting point was that user interfaces may not be central for the decisions which car to buy - but if not satisfied it will influence the decisions not to buy such a car again.
Context and context-awareness (e.g. based on user activity, driving parameters and location) seems to provide a great opportunity for future interfaces and in-car applications. One nice example was presented by Susanne Boll from a joint project with VW (C3World, connected cars in a connected world).