2010 RX Receives New Technology for a New Generation

January 07, 2009
Lexus has long been recognized as a leader in the design and implementation of new user-friendly technology as well as control systems in its vehicles. Practical, simple and even elegant solutions to the operation of its cars and SUVs have been a virtual “holy grail” that Lexus has diligently pursued from its very beginning. The rationale for following this path is simple: The easier a vehicle is to operate, the easier and more pleasurable it is to drive.

The new RX also makes it easier for the driver to stay connected – whether it’s communication with family and friends, communing with your favorite tunes or finding what you want when you want it. Now, let’s take a look at some of the technology found in the 2010 RX. 

Constant Connection

Bluetooth® technology now comes standard on the RX, and when paired with Hands-free voice recognition, makes it easier to complete phone calls without using a headset or even holding the phone. With the touch of a button, RX vehicles equipped with the navigation system can connect with phones that are capable of Phone Book Access Protocol (PBAP), and can wirelessly transmit up to a total of 1,000 contacts to the vehicle, for up to four phones. 

Audio to Please Both the Amateur and the Audiophile
The new RX is available with three different levels of audio. The RX comes standard with a six-disc CD changer and 9-speaker audio system. Each front door is configured with a 3-way speaker setup consisting of a woofer, a mid-range and a tweeter, each carefully positioned to provide a rich and clear sound. A 12-speaker audio system is available with the navigation package, adding a tweeter to each rear door as well as a box subwoofer in the luggage compartment for added bass. The new six-disc DVD changer and available 330-watt 15-speaker Mark Levinson® premium surround sound system allows users to enjoy 7.1-channel surround sound on select CDs and DVDs. The Mark Levinson® system adds a center channel coaxial speaker with an additional speaker on each D pillar to provide the right and left surround sound channels. Also part of the package is a Mark Levinson amplifier that powers the enclosed subwoofer in the luggage compartment. All channels are driven from 20Hz-20,000Hz at 0.1% THD. 
The new RX also tries to provide as many ways to listen to the driver’s preferred music as there are ways to store and broadcast it. In addition to AM/FM and CD Changer, the new RX features integrated XM satellite radio (subscription required after free trial) and three auxiliary inputs to connect the driver to their music: a mini-jack, standard Bluetooth AVP (Audio/Video-Profile) and an available USB/iPod connector. Bluetooth AVP-enabled devices, such as cell phones, can be wirelessly connected to the audio system and the music that is stored in the device can be played through the RX’s audio system. The USB/iPod connector will not only play the music on the device, it will display information on the navigation screen such as artist, album and track. The USB/iPod connector will even charge the multimedia device at the same time. Both the Bluetooth AVP and the USB/iPod connector allow the driver to control their music by using the onboard audio controls found on the steering wheel, dashboard and on the navigation screen allowing the driver to focus more on the road ahead. The RX also features an available Dual-Screen, Rear Seat Entertainment system with a 12-speaker audio system.
Tuned In To Your Drive
For the first time on a Lexus vehicle, the RX will feature available XM® NavWeather in addition to XM® NavTraffic (subscriptions required). XM® NavWeather provides near real-time weather conditions as well as a forecast of the days to come, both based on official National Weather Service data and overlays a map of those weather conditions on the current chosen route.  
When en route to the user’s chosen destination, XM® NavTraffic informs the driver of current traffic conditions with real-time traffic displays. When traffic problems are detected, the navigation system alerts the driver so the route can be adjusted to avoid them. These data services are just one of the many ways Lexus has improved the navigation system for the new RX. 

Next Generation HDD Navigation System

The available new navigation system on the RX can be controlled in two ways: a Lexus casual speech voice recognition system, or our new Remote Touch navigation controller.

Vehicles equipped with Navigation Package feature a new casual-speech voice recognition system that allows the use of more flexible, conversational commands for easier access and control. Voice command software enhances standard voice recognition and functions “on top” of the existing voice recognition system.
Without voice command, users need to speak commands in order, e.g., “Phone > Dial by Name > Bob,” in this specific order. With the navigation system’s voice command, this same task can be completed simply by saying, “Call Bob at home.” The voice command system also controls many functions of the audio system and climate control, like, “Make it cooler,” “Let’s find XM channel 150,” “Gimme a Japanese restaurant,” or “Where’s the nearest gas station along my route?” The system makes tasks easier to accomplish - and in fewer steps – with more flexible speech, allowing the driver to focus more on the road ahead.

Freeing the Eyes and Mind for More Important Tasks

Known simply as Remote Touch, the new navigation controller helps address the competing objectives of minimizing driver distraction while providing a range of options for customizing the driving experience. With constantly increasing feature content and complexity of today’s cars, finding ways to simply access and use them is a growing challenge. Concerns about driver distraction and the ability of users to learn to use the myriad features has limited their application in some cases. Other car makers have tried various solutions to these issues, with decidedly mixed results.
Faced with the same challenges, Lexus assembled a working group that included members from its product development, design, ergonomics and other engineering groups and charged them with creating and optimizing a new navigation system interface. Their efforts yielded a way to categorize the vehicle interior into two separate and distinct zones: display zone and operation zone. This perspective keeps the driver within comfortable reach of all controls while optimizing display and placement of information.
Designers placed the screen well forward and higher on the instrument panel, helping to notably reduce eye movement and refocusing from the road ahead to the screen—saving time better spent watching the road. The new screen, which also supports climate, audio, phone and other functions, is large, bright and clear. All are great benefits for the driver, but the team didn’t stop there.

The Joy(stick) of Feedback

Through their exhaustive research, the team realized that physical (and aural) feedback in the control system was a crucial step towards helping to reduce the “mental load” on drivers. This led designers to adopt a haptic device, or a device that provides force feedback to the user as the cursor moves over the screen. In this application, it helps make driving easier and more pleasurable by helping the driver locate the desired on-screen button by feel and sound.

The Remote Touch takes the shape of a moveable knob or joystick mounted in the controller. In order to control the pointer on the display screen, the operator moves the Remote Touch knob with his/her fingers, much like a mouse on a computer screen.
The feedback in the Remote Touch knob is most noticeable when moving the pointer over icons or “buttons” on the screen. When close enough, the haptic control “pulls” the pointer toward the center of the button with a feeling that is similar to rolling a ball over a flat surface and into a depression.
Resistance is also generated in proportion to the speed used in Remote Touch knob operation, with resistance on the map screen higher than other screens. When the pointer is near the screen edge, force is generated to move the pointer toward the inside of the screen. 
The force feedback is generated by two tiny motors on two axes of the joystick controller. The amount of force feedback can easily be adjusted through the setup menu.

The Lexus of Remote Controls

The Lexus team performed countless trials of prototype Remote Touch shapes and functionality of its switches. Initial designs condensed all of the switch functions into the Remote Touch knob, but this proved to be a disadvantage as it was prone to error. The final design of the Remote Touch is a model of comfort, simplicity and intuitive operation.

Remote Touch Functions:
  1. MENU switch – Displays the start
  2. Rocker switch – Zooms map screen and enables basic operations such as page scrolling
  3. MAP switch – Displays the map screen and current location
  4. Remote Touch knob – Controls the pointer on the screen
  5. Enter switch – Selects the icon or “button“as pointed by the haptic knob. Their location allows use of the thumb to operate, reducing the risk of errors. Can also be used by the passenger.
  6. Enter switch – Selects the icon or “button“as pointed by the haptic knob. Their location allows use of the thumb to operate, reducing the risk of errors. Can also be used by the passenger.
  7. DISP switch – Leaves the current screen and displays the screen effects screen
New Graphic User Interface Is Vibrant and Simple

The RX’s new graphic user interface (GUI) will be familiar to current Lexus owners, inheriting much the same visual structure as in previous Lexus Navigation systems. This helps speed users’ transition to the new system. Additionally, the new display is larger, brighter and features a higher contrast.
Importantly, the pointer is also easy to see, since your hand isn’t blocked by the screen. After about six seconds following the last Remote Touch knob operation, the pointer will disappear. When the knob is operated again, the pointer appears larger for about 0.3 seconds to assist visual location on the screen. When the pointer comes near an icon, a frame will appear around the icon to visually confirm it before selection. The size and shape of the pointer are customizable.
Sound feedback is used to enhance the ease of use of the new system. “Beep” sounds are used to indicate various operations, including:
  • Enter – The enter switch is pressed with the cursor displayed and the operation is accepted.
  • Selection – When pointer is moved and the cursor scrolls over an icon.
  • Failure – When the switch is pressed and the operation is not accepted.
If the driver is confident in operation without the sound feedback, the sounds can easily be turned off. 

Tailored for Individuals
Other controllers require the user to change their style in order to operate the system. The Remote Touch is just the opposite because it allows the user to customize the system to work best for them. Knowing well that a human’s ability to see, feel and hear inevitably varies, Lexus built in a number of customization options such as feedback force, the pointer size and shape, and the character and volume of operational beep sounds. Lexus is also aware that not all users are the same and that some might prefer additional methods of control. Knowing this, Lexus did its best to make sure that between the steering wheel controls, hard buttons and knobs, and the voice recognition system, the driver could control virtually every task without even using the Remote Touch at all. Even though a driver could potentially function without using the Remote Touch, Lexus is confident that the controller is so intuitive and user-friendly that it will quickly be integrated into the lives of its users.

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