Articles, Connectivity & Telematics, HMI & UX

Chris - a new digital companion in connected cars?

After two years of development the startup German Autolabs has launched Chris, a control system for distraction-free driving

Recently there have been more accidents again, which has slowed the downward tendency in the statistics of accident victims. Although there are fewer accidents and thus fewer deaths on the roads, the number of accident victims does not decrease as quickly as during the past years. So the industry is analyzing this trend and is wondering what role in-car technologies might play. Do we have a downward tendency despite or because of increased technology use in cars? The use of assistance systems reduces accidents, but distractions caused by smartphones and infotainment systems are on the rise. People reach for their smartphones while driving or crossing intersections and no longer pay attention to traffic, just to name a few examples.

Digital companion Chris - the solution to this problem?

The startup German Autolabs from Berlin wants to make traffic safer and more comfortable with their product. They introduced a device called Chris to the market. Chris is simply attached to the windscreen and provides voice or gesture control. As a digital companion, Chris should make it possible to use the smartphone or infotainment system without being distracted. A navigation device is also integrated, which uses HERE’s map material. HERE has recently been voted the best mapping provider by two testing institutions and has thus knocked Google Maps off the throne.

Language and gestures

With Chris you can select contacts by wiping gestures or have short messages read out on your voice command. In addition, you can use gestures to select music or a conversation partner on the phone. Chris contains five microphones to make sure every command is understood properly. There are also a sensor for gesture recognition and two Bluetooth interfaces. The round device is powered via a USB port. The price is supposed to be around 300 Euro. In order to design Chris, German Autolabs collected a lot of feedback from the connected car and tech community during its development. It should be seen as an alternative to Amazon’s Alexa, which is already being installed by many manufacturers.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: