Mass amounts of technology have made their way into cars, yet drivers are expected to keep our eyes on the road. It’s as though you’re taking a child trick-or-treating, yet you tell that child he or she can’t have any of the day’s candy conquests.
But auto suppliers Delphi and Visteon are mitigating the problem well, creating new technologies that aim to keep other technologies from distracting you too much. It makes sense because vehicles aren’t going to be getting any less advanced any time soon.
Of note, they’re creating reconfigurable thin film transistor (TFT) dash displays that can be mounted in compact spaces, allowing for more room on the dash for other customizable options tailored to specific drivers.
At Visteon, which was once a subsidiary of Ford, there’s a focus on tailoring the driving experience to specific drivers. The supplier noted that colors, appearances, and the way infotainment systems function within a car are all designed with specific regions in mind. Yes, there’s a science behind German cars all using scroll wheels and U.S. and Japanese vehicles having touchscreens. Germans prefer more linear patterns than other markets with fewer illustrated icons on their screens.
Visteon is also busy creating natural voice recognition software much like Apple’s Siri. Basic commands would be stored in the vehicle’s hard drive, but it would be able to shuffle to a cloud network when commands become more complex, offering more versatility in how it delivers content. Its concept display can shuffle between audio channels like radio, satellite, or an MP3 player, and it can provide different levels of complexity based on a few survey questions completed on a smartphone. It can also read smartphone and MP3 devices throughout the interior to shuffle all of their music on the car’s entertainment system.
Taking an existing Volvo XC60, where it already implements much of its new technology, Delphi integrated a customizable dashboard and center console layout. Not only can the gauges switch layouts, but it can also implement speech to text, WiFi, and function with natural voice commands similarly to Visteon’s system.
However, in what Delphi calls its “kitchen sink” prototype, it also has a sensor that detects eye motion and flashes an amber light when it senses a driver becoming distracted. Additionally, Delphi is experimenting with magnetic resonance to use signals throughout the interior to charge electronic devices. Systems just coming out now are using inductive charging, where you have to place a device on a specific pad to charge.
Asked when these technologies would make it to production, the Delphi engineer demonstrating them said, “When that gentleman next to you cuts a check.” The person next to me was responsible for technology procurement for General Motors.
While some of Visteon and Delphi’s technology is still several years off, some of it—such as Visteon’s infotainment system in the 2012 Fisker Karma—have already begun making it to production vehicles. Now, it’s just a matter of time before the future of technology reaches today.