Chaos Theory | Car Tech Issue
Transcript of Chaos Theory | Car Tech Issue
//////////////// ISSUE 2 • APRIL 2014 — THE CAR TECH EDITION ////////////////
WHY AUTOMAKERS SHOULD STEP ON THE GAS WHEN IT COMES TO DEVELOPMENT CYCLES
INFOSUPER-HIGHWAYTAP INTO DATAAS YOU DRIVE
MERGEAHEADCONNECTING DRIVERSTO THEIR VEHICLES
ALONGFOR THE RIDETHE PROS OF HIRING OUTSIDE DEVELOPERS
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5 AUTO UPDATETODAY’S CAR TECH IS FIVE YEARS OLD
— AND THAT’S A BIG PROBLEM. /////
9 DEALER OPTIONCARS ARE GETTING MORE SOPHISTICATED,
SO WHY ISN’T THE BUYING PROCESS? /////
11 CAR TECH’SCOMING OF AGEYOUNGER DRIVERS DESIRE IT,
YET CAN’T AFFORD IT /////
13 A NEW KINDOF CAR PERSONSOME OWNERS WORK ON THEIR DRIVING,
NOT THEIR CARS. /////
15 DASHBOARDSAVIORSAFTER TRYING TO TACKLE INFOTAINMENT
IN-HOUSE, AUTOMAKERS ARE TURNING TO
OUTSIDE DEVELOPERS /////
17 MAN & MACHINENEW ADVANCES LET US INTERFACE WITH
VEHICLES LIKE NEVER BEFORE /////
HONK IF YOU THINKTHE CAR OF THE FUTUREIS HERE
Technology has been part of the auto industry’s DNA since it first began. It’s responsible for advancements in everything from safety
features to manufacturing processes to those windshield wipers that turn themselves on. But despite all that progress, and some strong showings at this year’s CES, nobody’s honking yet.
That’s because the futuristic tech predicted by movies is already available everywhere else in our lives — from virtual reality gaming to voice-controlled home automation — but it’s still not in our driveways. These future cars need to be prepared for today’s advanced consumers.
To meet those demands for personalized, digital experiences, automakers will need to ditch many long-held practices, adapt to millennials’ way of thinking, and let outside developers sit in the driver’s seat to advance and innovate faster.
Ben LammCEOChaotic Moon Studios
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DRIVERS ARE GETTING STUCK WITH BAD TECH THAT PREDATES THE FLIP PHONE
TRAPPING THE SO-CALLED “CAR OF THE FUTURE” IN THE NOT-SO-DISTANT PAST.
By Neal Pollack
Powertrain technologies do things that we couldn’t have even imagined five years ago. Cars have everything from 12 -cylinder monster engines that could melt the paint off the side of a ship to hyper- efficient hybrid drivetrains that net unheard -of gas mileage numbers. Safety features have never been more efficient or plentiful, interiors more luxurious or more comfortable. Alterna-tive energy vehicles, good ones, are now a legitimate part of the marketplace, not a shunned afterthought. The last few years have been a time of powerful, evolution-ary innovation.
So why, then, does tech lag so far behind? Most modern cars are saddled with con-fusing, dated, second -rate infotainment systems, hard -to -figure GPS functions, and app stores that few customers use and even fewer want. Manufacturers might as well be offering an in- dash Com-modore 64 or a Sega Dreamcast.
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD
Cars get produced on a five -year-development cycle. This works fine for engines or safety systems, which have been in the pipeline all along, but doesn’t work, at all, for tech. “Five years ago, when a lot of those systems were designed, it was a different time,” says Derek Kuhn, VP at QNX Systems, which designs software platforms for Audi and GM, among other car companies. “That’s forever in Internet years.”
As a result, drivers get stuck with bad tech that predates the flip phone, trap-ping the so -called “car of the future” in the not -so -distant past. “These are bad computers because they’re so old,” says John Fremont, EVP at creative tech firm Chaotic Moon Studios. “They’re picking the cheapest components based on cur-rent technology and putting them in cars five years down the road.”
Nevertheless, car tech is advancing, though not always across manufacturer lines. The future will arrive occasionally. For instance, the new Audi interior will no longer have a “center stack” entertain-ment system. Everything will operate digitally in the driver’s direct sightline, from navigation systems to safety infor-mation to music options, which will be activated by voice commands or the press of a button.
TODAY’S CAR TECH IS FIVE YEARS OLD — AND THAT’S A BIG PROBLEM
In many ways, we’re living in a golden era of the automobile.
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WARNING[ ERRATIC DRIVING DETECTED ]
CONSIDER ROUTE CHANGE[ GARGANTUAN LIZARD DETECTED ]
NOTICE![ SPACE AVAILABLE ]
Wireless in- car services will also be ar-riving soon. GM recently announced that vehicles across its line, from the highest --end Cadillac to the entry-level Chevy Spark, will come equipped with a 4G LTE wireless hotspot, meaning that the car’s tech capability will evolve throughout its working life. “We view it as an integrated part of the vehicle, not as an add -on,” says John McFarland, Marketing Director for GM’s Global Connected Consumer Group.
In early March, Apple also announced CarPlay, an in- dash software system that will allow drivers to fully integrate Maps, Siri and other essential smartphone functions, all tied to a button on the steering wheel. Six automakers — Jaguar, Volvo, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and Ferrari — will be adopting it soon, with others to follow.
Most of the real innovations are coming in the realm of safety. The new Infiniti Q50 can steer itself for long stretches, as can the Acura RDX. You can almost take a nap while driving the new Mercedes S -Class. Audi has developed in -dash cameras that can detect if the driver’s attention has strayed from the road. New Subarus automatically slam on the brakes if they sense a crash coming at up to 30 mph. Self -parking features have also become common.
But it’s taken a federal government ini-tiative to really unite the carmakers un-der a common tech purpose. On February 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would immediately begin taking steps to implement advanced vehicle- to -vehicle
(V2V) communication in all new light vehicles sold in the U.S. “Vehicle- to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags,” said U.S. Transportation Secre-tary Anthony Foxx.
On that day, a version of the “car of the future,” long prophesized, discussed and auditioned, became permanent reality. Within the next five years or so, all new cars made will operate on a private 5.9 gigahertz bandwidth that will also be baked into most smartphones. They’ll be hooked up to a private bandwidth, silently exchanging basic safety data, like speed and grid position, without our knowing. Alert systems will go off if dan-ger is imminent, or even possible, since cars will exchange information ten times
”THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. IF YOU LOOK AT TESLA, IT’S A SOFTWARE CAR.”John FremontExecutive Vice President,Chaotic Moon Studios
a second and will be able to detect threats from hundreds of yards away.
“This is allowing the cars to be nodes on a grid that share information,” says Jim Keller, Chief Engineer and Senior Man-ager for Honda R&D in the Americas. “These cars are just talking to each other. And unless there’s a conflict, you’ll never even know the system is working.”
The new NHTSA standards are so rad-ical because they apply to, and integrate, every vehicle across every price level. They come out of a 13 -year -old nonprof-it federal government research project called the Crash Avoidance Metrics Part-nership, or CAMP, with the participation of engineers from almost every major automaker. “All companies need to talk to each other,” Keller says. “BMW has to talk to Honda and Ford. It’s not going to work if we slowly start with Acuras and work out way down to a Honda Fit.”
Meanwhile, the rest of car tech remains somewhat stalled. Part of the problem, says Chaotic Moon’s John Fremont, is that car manufacturers aren’t really controlling their technological future, de-pending instead on an antiquated system of tiered suppliers, many of them with their own ideas of how tech should move forward. The bureaucratic roadblocks are hard to overcome.
“The future is modular,” he says. “If you look at Tesla, it’s a software car. That big screen can be easily swapped out with a newer, higher density screen. It’s not fighting against so many variables.”
ANOTHER FIVE YEARS TO GO?
The automotive tech lag will persist for a while, says Honda’s Jim Keller. It’s going to be 2019 or 2020 before all new vehicles are onboard with the new federal com-munication standards, and for decades to come, there will still be old cars on the road that aren’t part of the systems. “It’s going to take patience and commitment in the early years, because there won’t be a huge volume of cars to communicate with,” says Honda’s Jim Keller.
Eventually, though, it will happen. What will the world look like when it does? BMW is trying to envision that. Their new compact electric car, the i3, comes equipped with a full suite of up -to -date smartphone apps that can tell the driver where to find public charging stations. More importantly, it can inform drivers about traffic and give them the option of parking for free and taking public transportation or, heaven forbid, walking instead.
Says Fremont, “My hope for the future would be that the car companies figure out a way for national travel via some-thing other than automobiles.”
In other words, when thinking about the car of the future, we also have to think of a future without cars.
“It’s a huge shift,” Fremont says, “but someone’s going to have to do it eventu-ally.”
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Cars are getting more sophisticated,so why isn’t the buying process?
By Fredric Paul
Even as the cars we drive have gotten dramatically faster, safer, smarter, more efficient, more reliable and more con-
nected, the places we buy them haven’t changed much since the days of pushy, clueless salesmen in loud suits.
If the auto industry wants to make dealers relevant for the 21st Century, everything about them has to evolve, from the training they give salespeople to how they entice and educate customers.
Automakers and their dealer networks — deep-ly aware of the disconnect — are desperately trying to leverage technology to reimagine the car- buying process, all in an effort to appeal to a generation of automobile shoppers raised on the web and mobile connectivity.
Car dealers’ traditional role as the place to “kick the tires” is being supplanted by online research as cars become vastly more sophis-ticated and reliable. “Dealers are in trouble,” warns Mark Platshon, a senior advisor to BMW in Silicon Valley and a partner in Birchmere Ventures. “They’re getting disintermediated and they haven’t figured it out yet.” As The Wall
Street Journal quoted one dealer executive last year, “The whole process of buying a car has flipped flop from what it used to be. Today, cus-tomers find the car first, then the dealership.”
Ben Lamm, CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios, believes there’s still a role for next -generation dealers by building a relationship with potential customers as concierges, offering test drives, providing information and answering questions. “A car is a big purchase,” Lamm says, “if some-thing goes wrong, customers need someone to call.” But those next- generation dealers won’t look anything like today’s sprawling suburban mega dealers. Instead, look for small, high -tech showrooms nestled in upscale retailing districts.
It’s already happening in Europe, where upscale carmakers are opening flagship stores in downtown areas of key cities. In the U.S., electric car upstart Tesla — which doesn’t have traditional dealerships — is leading the charge, largely because franchise laws forbid carmakers from undercutting their dealers by selling direct to consumers. Still, Ford tried pop- up storefront showrooms in tech -heavy San Francisco in 2012 and Frost & Sullivan predicts carmakers will open 100 urban showrooms around the world by 2020.
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So what’s in the showroom of the future? London’s Audi City — launched in 2012 for the Summer Olympics — offers a clue. Multi- touch displays configure and visu-alize cars in photorealistic 3D, and buyers can use Microsoft Kinect technology to manipulate life -size depictions of their choices on floor- to- ceiling “powerwalls.” That’s a long way from the dog -eared brochures in your typical dealership.
Technologies such as iBeacon, Blue-tooth Smart and geofencing will also help shoppers get information tied to the vehicle they happen to be looking at. And those technologies don’t have to be confined to the physical dealership. They could also find homes in cars or kiosks placed in malls and other retail environ-ments.
Soon the car itself could even become a virtual salesperson. Last year, for exam-ple, Chaotic Moon helped Toyota create the Driver Awareness Research Vehicle.
One of its many impressive features was its ability to display an interactive deal-er’s invoice directly on its window, letting prospective buyers use gestures to swipe through various screens and learn more about what the car has to offer.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Mindful of customer expectations, BMW’s Future Retail program is look-ing to meld technology with a personal touch, leveraging “Product Geniuses” to introduce customers to BMW products. According to a BWW spokesperson, Geniuses aren’t salespeople. Instead, they’re employed to enhance customer understanding of — and interaction with — BMW’s vehicles. To do so, Product Geniuses use tablets to help customers configure vehicles car side, displaying the results on a huge flat screen that’s nearby.
If that’s not good enough, projec-tion-mapping technology will eventually let buyers see their choices right on the car itself. The next step after that? Lamm
suggests that high -end car dealers could become simulation centers, where poten-tial buyers could experience vehicles in extreme conditions that would be hard to test in the real world. By projecting im-ages onto vehicle windows, Range Rover could demonstrate how the Land Rover performs in the snow while Ferrari could show what’s capable on a race track.
DEALER AS ONBOARDER
No matter what technology they use, dealers still have to add value to the car-buying process. Elizabeth Kerton, Managing Director of the AutoTech Council, puts it this way: “How do we provide value to a customer who doesn’t think she needs us?”
One approach is to play a bigger role in helping buyers get comfortable with their fancy new rides after purchase. “Buyers are overwhelmed with all the technology in new cars,” says Chaotic Moon Creative Director Greg Carley. “When I bought my new Jeep Cherokee, I went home and sat
“Car dealers need to be more ‘Genius’ and less salesman.” — Elizabeth Kerton, Managing Director, AutoTech Council
in the driveway for an hour trying to fig-ure everything out. That’s a huge missed opportunity for the dealer.”
Kerton says smart dealers will follow the Apple or BMW model and provide training sessions to help buyers configure their infotainment system to work with their phone, as well as download and install apps. “All that infotainment stuff is bloody complicated,” she says. “Car dealers need to be more ‘Genius’ and less salesman.”
PDI IS PRETTY DARN IMPORTANT
Car dealers have one ace up their sleeve: the Pre- Delivery Inspection (PDI). That’s when the dealer checks out the car and makes sure everything is working prop-erly before the buyer takes possession, and it’s one last chance for dealers to stay relevant.
Dealers hope to work with carmakers to add new dealer- installed options and personalization touches at the PDI stage, Kerton says. Dealers would even like to see some essential features of the vehicle — custom steering wheels or seats, for example — added during the PDI instead of at the factory, helping to cement their role in the sales process.
One thing is clear: The dealer of the future will have to look and operate very differently than it does now. Car deal-ers are not immune to the rising tide of e -commerce that has wiped out estab-lished retailers from Borders to Circuit City, many of whom enjoyed far more positive reputations. From cutting- edge technology to re imagined sales process-es, dealers and automakers who want to to attract the next generation of car buy-ers will have to embrace brand new ways of doing business. If they succeed, one day people might actually enjoy visiting their local car dealer.
Studies show that millennials are the most tech savvy group by age, and also the most willing to fork out a little extra dough for special features in their cars. Unfortu-
nately, these features are mostly found in luxury automobiles, not the affordable cars millennials typically purchase.
Maybe because of the growing “sharing economy,” or a simple lack of expendable income, these buyers tend toward used vehicles. “Millennials don’t buy new cars,” says Chaotic Moon’s John Fremont. “18 -to 34 -year- olds only accounted for about 10% of new autos sold in 2013.” So how can you get this younger audience buying newer cars? By offering them more tech for a slightly higher price than they’d normally expect to pay.
To manage costs, Fremont thinks car makers should prioritize navigation, communication, entertainment and convenience. Consumer preference also bears this out. According to re-search company GfK and the Consumer Electronics Associa-tion, 66% of those 18 -34 are especially interested in these types of features.
Obviously, the time is right for automakers to take advantage of this hyper attuned, social -media -inclined population. But according to Fremont, the trick is not to drive up the price of compact cars so much it pushes younger drivers away. “Ul-timately, price is probably a larger decision than technology in the purchase of an inexpensive car,” says Fremont. “Until affordable in- car tech packages are the norm, vehicles without them will continue to sell.”
- AUSTIN L. RAY
CAR TECH’SCOMING OF AGE
Y O U N G E R D R I V E R S D E S I R E I T ,
Y E T C A N ’ T A F F O R D I T
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a n e w k i n d o f
SOME OWNERS WORK ON THEIR DRIVING, NOT THEIR CARS.
B Y K E V I N P U R D Y
That’s because Barone thinks, talks and shares notes about braking, mileage, accel-eration, and maintenance. He brags about achieving great mileage, especially in ad-versely cold conditions. He speaks a new and
seemingly secret language, one that his cars taught him.
It cost Barone, a graphic designer, just $69 to enter the realm of car efficiency and diagnos-tic powers, by purchasing an early version of Automatic. The “smart driving assistant” plugs into the data port, which has quietly been present on most U.S. cars made since 1996. That dongle then connects to Barone’s smartphone through Bluetooth. Automatic tells him his drive to visit suburban relatives costs $2.50 each way, alerts him when he’s braking or accelerating too hard, and provides diagnostics on any Check Engine lights (as does a competing car connector, Dash).
icholas Barone is not a car mechanic, a change -your -own --oil guy, or even a know- how -
-many- CCs -are -under -the- hood type. And yet he’s become a new kind of “car person.” Car makers could create more of them too, if they gave drivers access to more data.
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NEW KIND OF CAR PERSON
Just those few points of data have changed how Barone drives — and how he thinks about his far- from- new car. “It kind of gamifies your driving to a degree,” he said. So what would happen if every smartphone- toting car buyer — certainly more than half of them by now — had access to at least that minimum mileage/performance/diagnostic data, and app developers could build on top of it?
What would happen is that people would appreciate the cars they own, work to get the most out of them, share their car stories, and stop thinking of their car as a black box with four wheels and a stereo. Mobile technology, in other words, could reposition cars as gadgets, not transportation utilities. If that sounds like overexcited hype, you’re probably thinking short -term. Right now, the framework is other Bluetooth devices, services like IFTTT, and your iPhone or Android. But start building out from a deeper car- to -phone two -way con-nection, and it’s easy to guess where it connects and leads from there.
A TOOL FOR EVERY JOB
• Personal financial tools like Mint could import car spending details
• Expense reporting tools like Concur could auto import mileage data
• Insurance companies like Allstate could immediately reward good driv-ing behavior
• Delivery services like UPS could get smarter about fuel costs and actual time to deliver
• Police, fire and transit agencies could receive real- time availability data
If all these data points and app connec-tions sound more bewildering than help-ful, take a look through the online forums that exist for owners of any particular hybrid vehicle. Sure, there are complaints about recalls and computer bugs and design decisions, as there always will be. But owners of these cars can be enthu-siastic, analytic, helpful and invested in
understanding what their car is capable of doing. I know because I’ve become one of those owners.
My wife and I purchased a hybrid vehicle last year, one with a still -capable gas engine, but a theoretical 40- plus miles per gallon, even on the highway. We learned what kind of conditions put the car in all -electric mode, we used seat warmers instead of dashboard vents to heat ourselves whenever possible, and we figured out the unexplained cruise features. We kept track, we bragged to each other about uber -efficient trips and became informed advocates for our car.
I am, in other words, as keenly aligned with my particular hybrid, and its whole ecosystem, as I am with my chosen phone (Android), laptop (ThinkPad), and watch (Pebble). Give people data, connections and insight into how something works and, sure, sometimes you give them ammunition for complaint. But you’ll just as likely recruit them into the ranks of enthusiastic early adopters.
This, then, is a call to car makers: give us the data. Let us connect our phones and dig in. Let us see how we’re doing. Let smart developers do unforeseen things with connected cars. Let our connected cars talk to one another, talk to parking meters, talk to traffic reports. Let us be that new kind of “car person.”
Give us the data. Let us connect our phones and dig in. Let us see how we’re doing.
IT WOULD BE the car industry’s dirty lit-tle secret, if it wasn’t so totally obvious. As anyone who drives a car already knows, today’s infotainment systems — and the limited numbers of apps they run — pretty much stink. Especially when compared to the huge and vi-brant app ecosystems surrounding iOS, Android, and other mobile platforms.
“The sooner carmakers relinquish control of the dashboard, the better,” says Mark Platshon, a senior advisor to BMW in Silicon Valley and a partner in Birchmere Ventures. Automobile apps have historically been developed in -house, but that process takes far too long and stifles innovation.
“It’s not that third -party developers are smarter or faster,” adds John Fre-mont, EVP at Chaotic Moon Studios, which is working with GM to evange-lize the carmaker’s developer outreach program, “but there are so many of them with a diversity of experience, skills and perspectives.”
Bringing in outside developers won’t be easy. Despite a rash of individu-al carmaker initiatives — and new platforms like the Car Connectivity Consortium’s MirrorLink, Google’s Open Automotive Alliance, and Apple’s iOS in the Car — the auto apps mar-ket remains fractured. “We know we need to change the entire outsourcing
R&D model, and people like us can help make it faster,” says Ben Lamm, CEO of Chaotic Moon.
Not surprisingly, just about every carmaker is angling to attract develop-ers. Ford is hosting OpenXC workshops around the country with TechShop, while Honda and Evernote co -sponsored a hackathon last year.
GM, meanwhile, is leveraging its OnStar service used by more than 6.5 million customers. The company is aggressive-ly sharing tools and APIs to let outside developers create new apps via its developer.gm.com portal. The platform is due to launch this summer when GM rolls out 4G LTE connections in most of its 2015 models. Like most automakers, “we participate in everything,” notes GM’s Global App Development Manag-er Junior Barrett. He adds “we want to leverage the creativity and expertise of outside developers to help us bring even more content to our customers.”
Over the past year, GM has touted their developer program at more than a dozen events around the world, from standalone hackathons to TechCrunch Disrupt in New York and San Francisco. So what kind of apps are developers actually creating?
One of the most ingenious ideas came from a group of high school students, who built a learn -to -drive app that tracks student drivers’ practice times as they get ready to take the driver’s test. The app audibly walks students through complex maneuvers like parallel parking and three -point turns. Using GPS, it can even point out when a driver is speed-ing — which is way better than a parent yelling. “An app like this could only come from a younger person, not a carmaker’s development team,” says Fremont.
According to GM’s Barrett, more than 4,200 developers have already signed up for the nascent program. “We’re seeing a great deal of interest from developers wanting to work with our APIs and come up with the next big idea for in-vehicle apps.”
A F T E R T R Y I N G T O TA C K L E I N F O TA I N M E N T I N - H O U S E ,
A U T O M A K E R S A R E T U R N I N G T O O U T S I D E D E V E L O P E R S
By Fredric Paul
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Cars are evolving in leaps and bounds, but when it comes to biometrics, everything is very much in the trial stage. Car “infotainment” systems still veer into the category of nightmarishly
complicated, with bad app stores connected to com-plicated audio and temperature- control systems that require a lot of study and button -pushing. The slow pace of change in the car business, particularly compared with the speedy tech development cycle, has left for a lag in entertainment, safety and any other important metric that measures a successful car. Proof: carmakers are still trying integrate smartphones in a Google Glass world.
DRIVER INTEGRATION STRAIGHT OUT OF SCI -FI
Researchers at Intel are running experiments where they monitor driver brain activities using infrared scan-ners, the idea being that all this accumulated data will help to make cars safer at some point. And promotional videos from car -involved tech companies like QNX Systems and Texas Instruments present an idealized scenario for the car of the future. Vehicle doors open when handprints are recognized. Drivers are constantly
scanned for mood and situation. Car interiors fill with digital stimuli and information, all projected in a deep- blue tint. But while bits and pieces of this wondrous future are coming to pass, it’s still a long way off. “The available tech is far more advanced than any implemen-tation,” says Chaotic Moon’s Chief Innovation Officer whurley. “Not a lot of manufacturers have implemented it outside of some sort of technology demo.”
Other biometric solutions are beginning to arrive, halt-ingly. Some automakers are doing pilot projects. Toyota demonstrated its mood -reading concept SUV at the L.A. Auto Show, but has been slow to talk about actually selling cars with this tech. Nissan has been showing off a wearable “smart watch” to help integrate biotech and car systems. Ford has an idea to integrate a wearable glucose monitor into a car’s stack of apps.
In this instance, drivers could get an instant warning from their car when they suffer a drop in blood sugar. Gary Strumolo, Ford’s Global Manager for Interiors, says that Ford is working with glucose -monitor manufac-turers to make this happen, but he doesn’t say to what
BY NEAL POLLACK
N E W A D V A N C E S L E T U S I N T E R FA C E W I T H V E H I C L E S L I K E N E V E R B E F O R E / / / / /
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MAN AND MACHINE
EVERYTHING IS WITHIN
THE CAPABILITY OF THE CAR. WHETHER IT,S
WITHIN THE BUSINESS PLAN IS ANOTHER MATTER.
- Gary Strumulo, Global Manager of Interiors Ford Motor Company
extent. As with most biometric -based car projects, it’s happening very slowly.
Another Ford idea involves an app, already avail-able in its in- vehicle store, called Allergy Alert. It works in conjuction with pollen.com to inform drivers about pollen counts in their immediate area.
Strumolo says Ford is working on advanced air- filtration systems that will work in conjunc-tion with the app. If the car detects an upcoming high- pollen pocket, it could turn on air recircu-lation to save its driver a lot of discomfort. “If we know what air quality is like in an area,” he says, “we can change how our nav system works. Instead of giving the most fuel efficient route, we can give you the healthiest route. If you’re in L.A. and the smog is building up, we could reroute you around to minimize the exposure to bad air.”
NOT EVERYTHING FROM THE MOVIES IS HERE YET
Even though that integrated allergy -detection sys-tem is nowhere near a reality right now, it’s around the corner compared with motion- based technol-ogy. Given all the other development concerns that carmakers face, gesture control almost seems like an impossible dream. Whurley says that one day in the indeterminate future, we’re going to see cars that can, with the wave of a hand, be able to “shade the windows, play relaxing music, give you a book to read.”
The present moment, he says, is much messier and more intermediate. High -end Cadillacs flash blinking red lights on the windshield if you need to brake suddenly. Seats buzz and ding, mirror lights shimmer. Cars are even starting to respond to voice commands. But heads- up, Google Glass -like dis-plays, manipulated with finger gestures, are still off somewhere on the unmarked development -cycle horizon, though they could probably start getting implemented tomorrow, or at least within the year.
“I know it takes a long time to get things through the approval process, but that’s not really an excuse,” whurley says. “A lot of these technologies are add -on after the fact. If you look at it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have better technologies for driver distraction built in. It’s kind of ridiculous that you don’t.”
Or, more simply, as Ford’s Gary Strumulo says, “Everything is within the capability of the car. Whether it’s within the business plan is another matter.”
FULL THROTTLE THINKINGAwesome stuff happens when we get behind the wheel
GESTURE-CONTROLLEDINFOTAINMENT AN iOS SHOWROOM
TO GET UP TO SPEED, CONTACT: John FremontExecutive Vice PresidentChaotic Moon Studios
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We’re a group of thinkers, builders, designers, developers, leaders, dreamers and doers hell-bent on changing lives through better experience design.
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