[Design Forum] In-car IT logs driver’s habits, runs mobile devices

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Nov 12, 2014 - 20:53
  • Updated : Nov 27, 2014 - 19:56
This is the fourth in a weekly series that examines the expanding role of design in the run-up to the Herald Design Forum 2014 on Nov. 26. ― Ed.

The word “design” derives from the Latin word “designare,” which means “to mark out,” “to choose” or “to order.”

In the past, most people recognized only the artistic aspect of design.

Today, design blends with industries and expresses a product’s functions and a brand’s values and aims. Furthermore, even the development or achievement of technologies that contribute to people’s lives is regarded as a main role of design.

The automobile is the epitome of industrial design.

With eco-friendly cars high on the agenda, automakers are grappling to raise fuel efficiency by minimizing air resistance through aerodynamic external designs.

They are also keen on achieving stronger connectivity between a car and mobile devices such as smartphones to ensure a safer and more convenient driving environment.

Cars and IT for safety and fun

A man gets a text message on his smartphone while driving a car. He does not need to glimpse or touch the screen because the Siri voice control function of Apple’s CarPlay, which connects the car with the iPhone or other devices running the iOS operating system, reads the message out loud for him. To reply to the message, the driver only has to say “text” and dictate what he wants to send, and CarPlay will send it. 
Apple’s CarPlay is test-run on the Hyundai Aslan. CarPlay enables the driver to have the vehicle’s audio system play music from his smartphone, get directions to his destination, make phone calls and send text messages without touching his phone or the audiovisual navigation system. (Hyundai Motor Group)

The driver can also get directions by simply saying his destination. There is no need to look at the navigation screen. Internet-based Apple Maps provides turn-by-turn directions, traffic conditions and estimated travel time, and all the information is delivered by voice.

“In addition to the phone, text messaging and satellite navigation services on voice control, the driver can also enjoy music saved in his smartphone without looking away from the road while driving,” said a research analyst at Hyundai Motor who demonstrated how to use the in-vehicle infotainment system, a collection of audiovisual entertainment as well as navigation systems.

Hyundai Motor is seeking to integrate Apple’s CarPlay as well as Google’s Android Auto into its vehicles.

“Hyundai Motor has been cooperating with Apple since late 2012 to develop in-vehicle infotainment technologies,” said Roh Yong-ho, head of Hyundai’s in-car IT development team.

“Hyundai was the first among global carmakers to begin research on Google’s Android Auto.”

Hyundai’s efforts to design an automotive environment that integrates the latest IT systems come as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are soon to commercialize car models that support CarPlay. Hyundai plans to have CarPlay running in its vehicles sold in the U.S. starting 2015.

“Designing an automotive environment that supports both Apple and Google, which together command over 95 percent of the smartphone OS market, is expected to help make driving safer and more convenient,” Roh said.

Such “connected cars” will be in the limelight in industrial design as their number is expected to increase from 700,000 units last year to over 2 million units in 2016.

Internet of Things

On top of linking IT devices with cars, automakers are reaching further to add an “interface design” function that allows the vehicle to detect the driver’s condition and modify the in-car environment.

The Internet of Things, or the interconnection of embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure, enables this.

Hyundai Motor plans to introduce a new concept of in-car infotainment technology at the CES 2015 in Las Vegas in January.

The envisioned technology memorizes the driver’s usual handling habits and activates the phone and the satellite navigation system upon detecting the driver’s movements. The driver doesn’t have to touch the large screen on the dashboard.

Touch screens for infotainment will be installed on the passenger seat and the back seat so passengers can watch videos while driving.

“We are seeking to bolster in-car entertainment functions as we prepare to develop self-driving cars,” said a Hyundai Motor official in research and development.

The automaker also plans to design an IoT environment that feeds road directions as well as real-time vehicle information on to wearable IT devices such as the Galaxy Gear.

IoT technology is widely perceived as a megatrend in industrial design.

According to market research firm Machina Research, the number of computing devices (handsets, tablets, eReaders, laptops, etc.) connected per person will rise from the current two to 10 by 2020. Machina Research expects the global IoT market size to increase by 4.4-fold from 237 trillion won this year to 1035 trillion won (2.7 trillion won in Korea) in 2020.

“A car that is completely different from what we think now will be designed,” said a Hyundai Motor official.

“In the future, automotive technology design will not be just about the connection between the driver and his car, but also about communication of information between vehicles as well as between a car and surrounding devices.”

By Shin Dong-yoon and Kim So-hyun, The Herald Business