TRW has unveiled its next-generation Integrated Electronic Control Panel (IECP) that combines major interior controls, advanced vehicle network architectures, and telematics into a 'single, convenient panel' in the vehicle's centre stack.

TRW says the new design yields many benefits to the vehicle manufacturer and consumer, including enhanced cabin styling and improved safety due to simplified human machine interface (HMI).

"The integrated control panel is truly a leap forward for automotive interior design and for the way people interact with vehicles," said Victor Peltola, director, sales and business development for TRW North America Body Control Systems. "Technology advancements have led to an incredible array of personal communication devices as well as vehicle-based infotainment and telematics. Add these to traditional onboard systems and vehicle cockpits are being transformed into virtual command centers."

TRW claims that IECP brings benefits to OEMs:

  • Differentiation - customization and advanced HMI technologies such as capacitive touch sense (similar to a touchscreen) can be employed;
  • Remote control - control of internal and external devices by a separate "black box" unit leading to reduced cost and easy upgrades for future devices;
  • Improved packaging and styling flexibility

And for the final customers:

  •   Safety - reduces driver distraction - controls are within easier reach, closer together, and more integrated with steering wheel controls;
  • Design - highly flexible customized design including color matching to  the interior, back lighting, and jeweled surfaces , as well as providing superior fit and finish;
  • External device interface - offers both direct and wireless Bluetooth interface and control of nomadic devices including cell phones, MP3 players, Radio, Broadband internet access, and navigation devices

"Dealing with these devices in a safe and efficient manner with flexibility for the future is the aim of this new system," Peltola said.

TRW supplied its first generation IECP on the Chrysler Caravan and Town and Country and has been awarded business for its next-generation IECP for two European vehicle platforms.

"Our IECP technology roadmap calls for increasing levels of sophistication including capacitive touch sensor technology similar to that used in laptop touch pads, touchscreen displays, proximity sensing, and even the possibility of gesture recognition and advanced vision technology to assist in controlling vehicle functions," said Dan Mittelbrun, senior manager, product planning. "IECP technology represents a quantum leap forward for the art and science of vehicle interior design and control functions," Mittelbrun concluded.