27 July 2023

Mini

MINI gets Operating System 9

27 July 2023 - History-rich British brand MINI is taking a step into the digital age with its new model family. At the heart of the action is the iconic central instrument; the MINI Interaction Unit. The round OLED display, with its 240 mm diameter and rich colours, blends into the interior of the new MINI family. Its positioning within the cabin allows it to be used comfortably by the driver and front passenger.

The new "Charismatic Simplicity" design language is also reflected in the aesthetic of the user interface, which brings together functional and emotional elements. The reduced design uses all-new graphics to create a modern look. Static and dynamic elements blend naturally into the circular form of the OLED display, following a clear structure. Micro-animations enhance the already extremely intuitive interaction between the driver and central instrument and underscore the digital character of the new MINI family.

Mini

MINI Operating System 9 is an in-house development by the BMW Group and is based on an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software stack. At the centre of the screen is the start menu, where personalised content can be selected and launched by swiping to the side. In the lower section of the screen is the fixed status bar containing the menu items "Navigation", "Media", "Telephony", "All Apps" and, depending on the situation, "Home", which can be selected directly. Swiping up from the lower edge of the screen reveals a tool belt, a process customers will be familiar with from many consumer electronics devices. Favourite functions can be stored here and called up again rapidly, i. e. navigation destinations and radio stations. The tool belt can also be activated via the star button on the multifunction steering wheel. The upper screen area is reserved for driving-relevant content such as the vehicle speed and important information on the vehicle status. The optional Head-up display shows the most important information for the driver in their field of view.

The temperature for the driver and front passenger is permanently displayed on the left- and right-hand edge of the screen. The climate control settings are integrated into the MINI Interaction Unit and can always be adjusted on the top layer by touch or voice command.

Depending on the Experience Mode selected, a single tap on the speed display transforms the entire MINI Interaction Unit into a MINI-typical speedometer.

MINI Experience Modes

The connection between the new MINIs and their drivers steps up a degree in intensity with the MINI Experience Modes. Standard specification includes the Core, Green and Go-Kart Modes, each of which has its own specific user interface design. The Experience Modes can optionally be taken to the next level by the additional, coordinated use of light and sound. Drivers can immerse themselves in up to eight different worlds in the interior of the new-generation MINIs thanks to the MINI Experience Modes, with a distinctive jingle for each Mode indicating it has been activated.

The MINI Interaction Unit displays different designs and content according to the mode selected. A standout feature of the interior experience is a fresh interpretation of the signature MINI interior lighting. An optional projector on the back of the OLED display bathes the dashboard in coordinated colour worlds and patterns. The interplay of the projection, ambient lighting and MINI Interaction Unit creates a unique, immersive experience that extends into the door trim.

A particular highlight is Personal Mode, which breaks new ground in terms of personalisation and adjustability. It allows customers to turn their own pictures from their smartphone gallery into the background for the MINI Interaction Unit using the MINI App. The ambient lighting is set automatically in a colour that matches the picture selected.

The colour design in the optional Head-up display likewise adapts to the MINI Experience Mode selected. This also contributes to an emotionally engaging and consistent digital user experience.

MINI Intelligent Personal Assistant

This is the first time a full-capability voice assistant will be included in models from the MINI brand. The MINI Intelligent Personal Assistant can be activated using the greeting "Hey MINI" or by pressing the push-to-talk button on the steering wheel. The voice-controlled interaction on the circular OLED display takes place in the form of an animation made up of graphical elements, typography and an avatar. For the visualisation, users can choose between "MINI" - a stylised representation of a MINI - and optionally "Spike", a familiar figure already to many MINI fans.

Many important functions, such as navigation, telephony, radio and temperature, can be controlled by voice command. The driver can make travel-related requests or wishes, such as "What's the weather in... my destination?" and "Show me charging stations along the route". If the customer expresses a wish, e.g. "I'm hungry" or "I'd like a coffee", relevant options in the vicinity are displayed and route guidance to the desired destination can be started directly. Two microphones at the front of the headliner enable the system to automatically detect whether it is the driver or front passenger currently speaking.

The brand-typical character of the MINI Intelligent Personal Assistant can be experienced by customers through chit-chat, which will bring up MINI-specific answers, jokes and stories. Such as the question "Do you like me" or "Tell me a joke".

In the United Kingdom, the MINI Intelligent Personal Assistant will already be based on the Alexa Custom Assistant's AI technology stack at market launch, allowing it to engage in natural dialogue with the driver with a brand-defining voice. In many other markets, the new voice and other features also enabled by using the Alexa Custom Assistant will be introduced at a later stage over the air.

MINI Navigation

The cloud-based navigation system represents an improvement in performance over the preceding generation and offers exceptionally intuitive destination entry. It enables very fast and dynamic route calculation based on precise real-time traffic data transmitted at short intervals, which is then combined with forecasting models. When the navigation app is selected, the map takes up the entirety of the circular display. The colour scheme for the map graphics changes to match the selected MINI Experience Mode, while buildings can also be shown in 3D if desired.

In all-electric MINI models, as soon as the destination has been entered, a charging-optimised route will be calculated if the vehicle's current range is not enough to reach the destination. Both the calculation algorithm and the speed of calculation for charging-optimised routes are subject to a process of constant improvement. Important information for the charging stops is displayed in the route overview, such as the estimated state of charge upon arrival, recommended charging time and target state of charge for the onward journey. Live data is processed during the journey, allowing new charging stations to be automatically added to the itinerary if any of the stations originally planned for charging stops no longer have availability. The driver is also offered alternative charging-optimised routes, where available. By default, the system is set to ensure that the vehicle reaches both the final destination and the charging stops with a charge level of at least 10 per cent. Drivers are able to adjust this spare charge setting if required.

Charging is also made easier by the integration of the authorisation and start/stop functions for the charging process into the MINI App.

The optional Augmented View function enables exceptionally accurate navigational guidance. It provides a perfect complement to the navigation system's instructions in crucial situations. For this, a live video stream from the driver's perspective is shown on the MINI Interaction Unit and augmented by supplementary information that matches the context. At confusing junctions, for instance, an animated directional arrow is integrated into the video image to help the driver take the best turn-off for the planned route. In addition to this, information on applicable local parking regulations also appears in the live video stream in augmented reality form.

MINI Connected Package.

MINI Connected Store: AirConsole gaming, video streaming, Spotify and a constantly evolving range of apps. The new MINI Connected Store combines with the optionally available MINI Connected package to provide access to a constantly evolving variety of practical and entertaining apps, including apps for gaming and music or video streaming. The availability of the apps varies from region to region in order to be able to offer customers the most tailored offer possible.

Following its introduction in current BMW models, a form of in-car gaming unique in the automotive sector now also awaits customers of the new MINI family. For example, the driver and passengers can play casual games in the AirConsole App when the vehicle is stationary as a way of passing time while waiting for the high-voltage battery to recharge.

Setting up the gaming experience with AirConsole is perfectly straightforward. All that players need is their smartphone, which acts as the controller, and the MINI Interaction Unit. Once the AirConsole App has been launched in the vehicle, the smartphone and car can be connected by scanning a QR code on the OLED display. Players can then get straight down to the action.

The AirConsole technology enables games to be made instantly available over the air and controlled using smartphones. This unique set-up means that multiple players - including passengers in the rear - can get involved in the in-car gaming fun during breaks in the journey. Generally speaking, it is possible to play alone or with all the other vehicle occupants, either as a team or in competition mode.

The games offered are casual games, so called because they are easy to pick up with intuitive control of gameplay. A range of racing, sport, general-knowledge quiz and music quiz games are available, along with simulation, strategy, jump-and-run and puzzle games, with titles including Go-Kart Go, Golazo, Music Guess and Overcooked. The portfolio of available games is constantly evolving.

Music streaming apps such as Spotify have been adapted for MINI Operating System 9 so that they integrate perfectly into the circular MINI Interaction Unit. This allows MINI customers to enjoy an intuitive and very visually appealing music streaming experience. The user's Spotify account can be connected by simply scanning a QR code.

The MINI Connected services will be rolled out afresh in over 40 countries when the new MINI family is launched.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are likewise included as part of MINI Operating System 9 for connecting smartphones wirelessly.

MINI Digital Key Plus

The new MINI family of models will offer customers another highlight feature in the form of the MINI Digital Key Plus. Once this has been set up on a compatible Apple, Google or Samsung device, drivers will be given a friendly welcome as soon as they approach the new MINIs thanks to their ultra-wideband technology. The welcome sequence is continued inside the car after the door has been opened and concludes with a personalised greeting courtesy of the MINI ID functionality. And this all happens without the driver even having to take their smartphone out of their pocket or bag. Keys can be passed on to friends or family easily and securely from the Apple or Google wallet using the native "share" function familiar from many apps.

As a member of the BMW Group family, the MINI brand is benefiting from over five years of experience in over-the-air upgrades with BMW. The software architecture of the new MINI family employs the same software for Remote Software Upgrades that has benefited from ongoing development in BMW models since 2018 and ensures updates are carried out smoothly and securely. In this way, the new MINIs will receive free Remote Software Upgrades several times a year for quality improvements. Depending on the country, vehicle model, specification and vehicle status, the upgrades may also add new features or improvements to functions free of charge.