Mercedes S-Class ‘Bosses’ Infotainment

Mercedes-Benz takes aim at the US and Chinese business executives with its latest S-Class infotainment system.

The automaker points out that these captains of industry still cling to the chauffeured trappings of visible power and like to ride in the back of their company cars. Yet, while seemingly old-fashioned in their display of ego, they still want all the latest digital gizmos available but from the comfort of the rear seats.

So, the carmaker has unveiled the latest edition of its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) suite with one of the headline tricks that the display screens boast virtual 3D viewing without the need for specialist glasses.

It works on the principal that an impression of spatial depth is created when the eyes of a viewer perceive different perspective views of an object in the display. This is achieved by the combination of a conventional LCD display with a special pixel structure and a controllable LCD aperture grille. What is known as a barrier mask is positioned a few millimeters in front of the LCD and precisely adjusted to the head position of the viewer that the left and right eye see different pixels of the LCD to create an impression of depth. A stereo camera system is integrated into the display to determine the eye position of the viewer and is continuously adjusted.

The suite’s mission is to provide a fully functioning office in the back of the car backed up with an improved “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant. This is capable of even more dialogue with as many as 27 languages supported. Certain actions can be performed even without the activation keyword “Hey Mercedes”, for example. These include accepting a telephone call or displaying the navigation map. The assistant can now also explain where the first-aid kit is located, or how to connect a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Security has been boosted with alongside the traditional entry of a PIN, a authentication method includes fingerprint, face and voice recognition are combined. This allows access to individual settings or verification of digital payment processes from the vehicle.

Another unique feature of MBUX is its networking with a range of vehicle systems and sensor data. For example, the exit warning function in the S-Class now uses cameras to recognize that an occupant wants to leave the vehicle. If another road user is approaching in the blind spot, the active ambient lighting becomes part of the exit warning system and flashes red. It also checks whether the child seat is correctly attached to the front passenger seat and the driver’s attention level is also monitored. The system uses an array of different microphones to pinpoint which of the occupants is talking at any one time to adjust acoustics accordingly.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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