CES preview: autos and the future in-vehicle experience5 minutes
When the massive CES 2018 debuts in early January, any sane person walking the floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center is bound to become awed or overwhelmed. If last year is any indication, manufacturers and startups from around the globe are preparing to reveal amazing camera technology, new-fangled drones, lightweight materials, wacky wearables, and yes, amazing new car concepts.
Innovation like we’re about to see at CES is pushing automakers to rethink the business of automaking—from hardware and software platforms to vehicle ownership models to a person’s mobility experience.
Innovation and a surge in auto electronics
Cars today are app-filled computers on wheels, and the pace of adding electronics to vehicles is speeding up. The growth in automotive electronics from Silicon Valley startups and established players is impacting many industries. In its recent semiconductor market forecast, research firm IC Insights predicts that the auto industry will soon overtake the personal computing business when it comes to semiconductor demand.
The growth in vehicle electronics impacts auto design in everything from packaging to power. When asked by the LA Times about the biggest challenge facing the auto industry, Mark Allen, head of Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep design division, told the media “just keeping up,” and mentioned everything from user experience, to material advancements, to new age powertrains, to “lightweighting,” or up integration or designing with next-gen materials to reduce vehicle weight without sacrificing functions or safety.
Autonomous capabilities and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), are also increasing the amount of vehicle electronics. Today’s vehicles often boast over 150 different subsystems and approximately 50 central processing units controlling functions ranging from sensor fusion systems, to intelligent displays, to infotainment voice recognition. All of these systems represent software complexity that exceeds a modern airplane with over 100 million lines of code per vehicle.
Consumers want a clean, simple experience
Consumers don’t want code, they want a unified experience. In many cases automakers have delivered. To wit: an increasing integration of related functions, such as cluster, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), smart connectivity modules, gateways, telematics, cameras and V2X connected vehicle technology. Indeed, user experience now requires such a rich graphic environment and application ecosystem that we see more consumer-related application platforms coming into the vehicle, as evidenced by Android and Linux.
In certain instances, many previously discrete functions are being consolidated into one controller, such as the IVX in-vehicle experience controller.
IVX in-vehicle experience isn’t just the apps and graphical representation of an interior. It also includes a rich audio and voice-driven engagement. With branded premium audio solutions, unique soundscapes that bring the outside in and active sound management to make the vehicle as quiet and comfortable as possible are core to a next-generation user experience. In many cases, a great IVX enables a vehicle to interact with its passengers’ favorite assistant, such as Google, Siri, Watson or Alexa.
Consumers want the latest apps and that means building cars with apps that can be easily and routinely refreshed. OEMs can’t afford to be locked into the traditional three to five-year development cycle.
Through its #NextGenIVX, a set of in-vehicle experience innovations that will debut at CES, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America will deliver to automakers new design flexibility and freedom. We’re working closely with Google to enable a pure Android Automotive experience without locking car OEMs into a proprietary derivative. This gives consumers the ability to most easily have the latest Android experience even after sale. We’re also enhancing the inside of the cabin, right down to each individual seating zone. As ride- and car-sharing become more commonplace, consumers may share a vehicle with a stranger, but they’ll still want their own individual, customized experience.
At Panasonic, we anticipate the future, innovate continuously and integrate disruptive technologies into breakthrough solutions for our customers. Our goal? Create technologies that move us toward a better life and a better world. We provide integrated solutions in a Connected World that meets today’s information, connectivity and mobility needs. Watch this space for more on CES, Panasonic and mobility’s future.
About our expert: Andrew Poliak is Vice President Product Planning and Innovation at Panasonic Automotive Systems of America