Most vehicles’ multimedia systems are designed to serve front-seat occupants — navigation, music choices, safety-system settings — but the second generation of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience system, or MBUX, also keeps the backseat passengers in mind, giving them access to up to three touchscreens as well as the “Hey Mercedes” voice-control assistant.
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MBUX is already pretty advanced, with Amazon Alexa-style voice controls and augmented-reality navigation, and this next-generation version has even more technology. Front and center is a new 12.8-inch portrait-oriented organic light-emitting diode touchscreen with haptic feedback that hovers over the center console rather than being embedded in the dashboard.
Mercedes Me, Me, Me …
The new system allows for additional personalization among all the car’s occupants. Up to five touchscreens are available in the cabin to allow for tailored media for each seat. Mercedes says that, by scanning a QR code with the Mercedes App, the vehicle is automatically connected to the “Mercedes me” account, enabling many settings, like ambient lighting or seat preferences to be accessed.
And since the system can do more, the automaker says it bumped up security. The system uses a traditional personal identification number, and fingerprint, face and voice recognition are now combined, which allows access to individual settings.
In front, the head-up display now uses augmented reality content, and projects animated arrows and other directions onto the road ahead. There’a also a new 3D driver display. Mercedes says this mode displays a spatial-type view of the road at the touch of a button for a 3D effect.
The “Hey Mercedes” system also gets an upgrade. It now supports 27 languages with natural language understanding and can also recognize indirect commands. For example if a user says “I’m cold” instead of a more specific temperature directive, MBUX will make the climate adjustment.
Certain actions can also be performed without saying “Hey Mercedes,” such as accepting a phone call or displaying a map on the navigation screen. The system can also be used for in-car questions, such as the location of the first-aid kit and how to connect to Bluetooth.
There’s also a new safety component to the system. Using vehicle sensors and cameras, a new exit warning function can recognize when an occupant wants to leave the vehicle and sound an audio and visual warning if another car is approaching.
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More Control, Fewer Controls
If five screens seem like a lot, it is — but again, the displays can be customized. Mercedes says they can be individualized with a choice of four display styles: Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive and Classic. There’re also three modes: Navigation, Assistance and Service.
And while the screen count is up, the number of physical controls is way down. This new version of MBUX uses 27 fewer buttons and switches, many of them climate controls, which are now screen-based.
For the screen-averse, however, Mercedes says that basic functions like the lights and windshield wipers are operated via traditional controls and the new screen-based climate controls are permanently pinned to the lower edge of the central display.
The updated system will debut on the automaker’s flagship sedan, the S-Class, which will be redesigned for the 2021 model year.
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