Chaos Theory | Car Tech Issue

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THE FUTURE OF CAR TECH • Why the five-year development cycle is too long for tech • How hiring third-party developers can improve infotainment • What dealers should do as automakers go direct Chaos Theory is from the minds at Chaotic Moon and the writers of Wired, Fast Company and ReadWrite.

Transcript of Chaos Theory | Car Tech Issue

  • CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 2014CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 2014 32 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 5 AUTO UPDATE TODAYS CAR TECH IS FIVE YEARS OLD AND THATS A BIG PROBLEM. ///// 9 DEALER OPTION CARS ARE GETTING MORE SOPHISTICATED, SO WHY ISNT THE BUYING PROCESS? ///// 11 CAR TECHS COMING OF AGE YOUNGER DRIVERS DESIRE IT, YET CANT AFFORD IT ///// 13 A NEW KIND OF CAR PERSON SOME OWNERS WORK ON THEIR DRIVING, NOT THEIR CARS. ///// 15 DASHBOARD SAVIORS AFTER TRYING TO TACKLE INFOTAINMENT IN-HOUSE, AUTOMAKERS ARE TURNING TO OUTSIDE DEVELOPERS ///// 17 MAN & MACHINE NEW ADVANCES LET US INTERFACE WITH VEHICLES LIKE NEVER BEFORE ///// HONK IF YOU THINK THE CAR OF THE FUTURE IS HERE Technology has been part of the auto industrys DNA since it first began. Its 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 years CES, nobodys honking yet. Thats 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 its still not in our driveways. These future cars need to be prepared for todays 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 drivers seat to advance and innovate faster. Ben Lamm CEO Chaotic Moon Studios
  • CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 2014CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 20144 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 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. 5 By Neal Pollack Powertrain technologies do things that we couldnt 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 doesnt 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. Thats 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 theyre so old, says John Fremont, EVP at creative tech firm Chaotic Moon Studios. Theyre 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 drivers 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. TODAYS CAR TECH IS FIVE YEARS OLD AND THATS A BIG PROBLEM AUT UPDATE In many ways, were living in a golden era of the automobile.
  • CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 2014CHAOS THEORY ISSUE 2 20146 ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 7TH TRINITY WARNING [UNSAFE DISTANCE] WARNING [ ERRATIC DRIVING DETECTED ] CONSIDER ROUTE CHANGE [ GARGANTUAN LIZARD DETECTED ] ROAD RAGER CLUNKER DISTRACTED DRIVER 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 cars 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 GMs 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. SAFETY FIRST 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 drivers 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 its 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 lifesaving achievements weve 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. Theyll 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 AUTO UPDATE THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. IF YOU LOOK AT TESLA, ITS A SOFTWARE CAR. John Fremont Executive Vice President, Chaotic Moon Studios 7 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 theres a conflict, youll 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. Its 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 Moons John Fremont, is that car manufacturers arent 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, its a software car. That big screen can be easily swapped out with a newer, higher density screen. Its not fighting against so many variables. ANOTHER FIVE YEARS TO GO? The automotive tech lag will persist for a while, says Hondas Jim Keller. Its 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 arent part of the systems. Its going to take patience and commitment in the early years, because there wont be a huge volume of cars to communicate with, says Hondas Jim Keller. Eventually, though, it will happen. What