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Claire White: Illumination Scenarios for Vehicle Evaluation

Claire is working towards her EngD (International) after completing a BEng in Mechanical and Aeronautical Design Engineering in 2003 and working as both a systems and a design engineer in industry for a number of years.

Working in collaboration with the Product Evaluation Technologies group at WMG and her sponsoring company, Jaguar Land Rover, Claire is addressing problems in recreating illumination scenarios for the accurate evaluation of vehicle interiors, such as touch and display screens.

Claire explains: “Methods for testing a vehicle in situations that it may encounter during its lifetime, such as extreme temperatures, harsh vibrations or corrosive environments, are well known. However one of the environmental variables that is not so simple to recreate artificially is that of the ambient illumination that a vehicle will encounter in the real world.

Artificially recreating that ambient illumination has become extremely important to the automotive industry due to advances in display and touch screen technologies and their increased usage in vehicles. This is because the ambient lighting condition within the vehicle can affect the readability of displays and can also produce distracting or uncomfortable glare from windows and reflective surfaces”.

Claire’s project will attempt to define different illumination scenarios that a vehicle will encounter and propose a way to recreate the most significant of these within a laboratory environment from real world sun and sky luminance data; creating a lab environment to perform more accurate assessments on readability of in-vehicle display screens with respect to Perceived Just Noticeable Difference, glare and washout and also colour matching of back-lit controls and in-dash displays.

Using sky and sun luminance measurements, computer simulation and modelling to design a lighting simulation facility and comparison of virtual and physical models, Claire will produce a range of options for the final design of the illumination test facility and recommend amendments to Jaguar Land Rover’s Illumination Readability Test Procedure.

To aid her in her work Claire has visited The Bartlett Sky Dome at UCL and The Sky Project at University College Dublin to see their artificial sky facilities. The Bartlett simulates daylight for scale models of buildings to assess the impact of ambient and directional light on lighting design. This is to complement or replace the need for artificial lighting for energy efficiency or to design the lighting within a room for human comfort. It mainly assesses the ratio of indoor and outdoor light and calculates the percentage of daylight entering the space.

Claire says: “The visit has given me an appreciation for the complexity of such systems and the size that would be required to do assessments on full sized vehicles. Investigation into parallax errors and dome size is required”.

The aim of the visit to The Sky Project’s artificial sky in Dublin was to see the types of facility available and understand how it might relate to Claire’s own project. Claire explains: “The simulator is used by the school’s undergraduate students as a design tool to assess the impact of daylight on building design using scale models. I found the visit incredibly useful, not just to see the simulator in operation, but to spend time talking with someone with an in-depth knowledge and understanding in the field of daylight simulation”.

Claire spent most of January 2015 in Australia, visiting academics at the University of Sydney and Monash University, and the offices of Jaguar Land Rover Australia - capturing dynamic skies and the resulting reflections at the centre console display.

At the University of Sydney, Claire spent time at the Department of Architectural and Design Science, which includes the Sustainable Design and Illumination Design research groups. At Monash in Melbourne, Claire visited CAVE2™, part of the Monash Immersive Research Platform (MIRP). The facility, which was opened in May 2014, is an immersive virtual environment, comprising a circular arrangement of 80 contemporary 3D LCD displays. It allows the exploration of data, in either 2 or 3 dimensions, and enables users to interact with the output from models, simulations and multidimensional images at the atomic level up to the cosmic, and anywhere in between. Claire was able to learn more about the capabilities of the technology and ways in which visualisation could play a role in evaluations of vehicle interiors, display readability and also in subjective assessments of customer quality perception.

In February 2015 Claire presented at the Electronic Displays Conference in Nuremberg, Germany (her presentation can be downloaded here ) and as a result has hosted a visit from Yazaki Europe to discuss her research and to show them our facilities. They have since expressed an interest in working with WMG on establishing their own in-situ display assessment capabilities.

In April 2015 Claire will be presenting at a seminar on 'Lighting and the Transport Sector', to be held at the offices for the Department of Busines, Innovation and Skills. She has aslo been approached by an Automotive Glass manufacturer in Switzerland looking to make their inspection condition closer to the end user condition. They have requested advice and support to improve their inspection procedure to reduce the amount of ‘good’ products being scrapped when the defects are not perceptible by the end user.