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The Minds Behind Washington’s Human-Machine Interface Team



HMI, or Human Machine Interface, is the newest addition to the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. This new swimlane bridges machines and users, and in this case, bridges the car to the driver. HMI is officially phased into the EcoCAR competition as a swimlane, so many teams are now starting to implement their own HMI division. The University of Washington team, however, began focusing on HMI in year one in order to get ahead, recruiting interested students and building their expertise.


“Many industries are now beginning to understand the importance of having User Experience (UX) specialists on their teams. We [UX specialists] offer a perspective on the product creation that differs greatly from engineers. Engineers focus on the specification and requirements needed to make efficient products, while we think about all the human factors involved” (Team Lead - Alex Argyle).


The job of the HMI team within the scope of EcoCAR is to design an interface in the Blazer which allows the driver to intuitively use all of the semi-autonomous features that the engineering swimlanes will be applying to the vehicle. Such interfaces include the dashboard and a car-sharing app. If wanted, teams can go even further and design aspects of the car like roof racks and accessibility features.


During the second competition year, the HMI team is tasked with producing a video that illustrates the onboarding process of the car’s new features when new drivers first use the car. Entering year two, the UW HMI team is focusing on doing research and using the user-centered design process to ensure that the solutions created are optimal for our target users. The team will also have personal projects that go beyond the deliverables required for competition.





The University of Washington HMI team is led by three hardworking undergraduate students:


Alex Argyle:

Alex is a Junior majoring in Human-Centered Design and Engineering. He is the subteam’s program manager, focused on overseeing the subteam as a whole and making sure the team sticks to their timelines. Alex is excited to see the ideas that the subteams will generate for solving the issues of onboarding.


“In user experience (UX) we focus mostly on mobile and web interfaces. EcoCAR presented an opportunity to think of UX in an entirely different way and a new medium. I thought of it as a challenge to think of UX in broader terms” (Alex Argyle).


Avery Wolf :


Avery is a Junior majoring in Human-Centered Design and Engineering with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. She is the lead of the subteam that is focused on developing the team’s car-sharing app. Avery is excited to be able to build an app from the start of the design phase to the implementation and coding phase.


“Joining EcoCAR was an opportunity to work and design something physical. There aren’t a lot of other opportunities on campus that allow students to be this hands-on and be in charge of real-world application of their engineering studies, so I jumped at the chance to join EcoCAR” (Avery Wolf).


Shane Martin:

Shane is a Junior majoring in Informatics with a focus in Human-Computer Interaction. He is the lead of the subteam that is focused on designing and producing in-car features, such as the dashboard. Shane is excited about the fact that this year HMI is being implemented into the EcoCAR experience, as it is an important aspect of the automotive design industry.


“It’s nice to see that HMI is being recognized, as it is an often overlooked, but important aspect of the experience. I’m excited to work with a team of students who seem really interested in this field and to learn more about the research process while gaining hands-on experience”  (Shane Martin).

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