12-Volt: Plotting the Path to Smart Mobility
Ford has always been respected as an automaker, but to keep up with the times they also have become technological civil engineers. We don’t expect the automaker to build our cities, but Ford really wants to have a hand in how we get around - and in the transformation of cities. As Ford CEO Jim Hackett noted in his CES keynote, “The automobile turned out to be the ultimate disruptor in human lives... but there was a price to that freedom. Roads intended for cars replaced streets intended for living.” When Ford’s first Model Ts were hitting the streets, horses and their associated leavings were permanently removed from the cobblestones. But new problems also arose, as with any new technology. Now, Ford wants to help the fight against congestion and further the path to smart mobility.
Don Butler, executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services at Ford, showed how a person having a medical emergency could have his vehicle part other vehicles - just like the Red Sea - using C-V2X (Connected Vehicle to Infrastructure). He noted, “A language needs to be created, so all the sensors [of the connected car and the city] can be linked up...and we're helping to write that language by contributing to new standards and protocols that connect everyone in the future. Everyone is a part of the community. We believe C-V2X is that connection that brings it all together.”
With a partnership between Ford and Qualcomm featuring 5G technology, C-V2X is closer than we think. Moreover, we know there will be aftermarket opportunities for this technology. We will have the opportunity to capitalize as an industry to integrate C-V2X into legacy vehicles on the road. All it takes is one family with a medial scare to be stuck in traffic, and they will purchase it for their entire extended family fleet…
When Samsung and Harman partnered up a year ago, we saw the potential for some great collaboration products. The first product that really fires on all cylinders is Digital Cockpit. The technology links the instrument cluster to the center console via voice control, haptic feedback, physical knobs, and steering wheel controls in a single center screen for vital vehicle information. There will be different feature sets depending on the model of the vehicle and options package picked, but to keep costs reasonable, some of the information is projected from the user’s smartphone. In other words, apps on your phone can appear right on your dash. There is a multi-display layout that can be personalized for the driver and the passenger. This allows information from the Android OS to be integrated on four separate displays.
That sounds good in theory, but how about ease of use? Harman wants the technology to be seamless, even if it winds up at a Hertz rental lot. According to Harman, the system can automatically access subscription services associated with user profiles while Bixby offers intelligent personal assistance to help occupants complete tasks by voice, touch, gesture and context-based triggers.
The Digital Cockpit is scalable and made available for every automotive segment, offering future-proof and safety-focused features within a developer-friendly open ecosystem. CEO Dinesh Paliwal noted, “Together with Samsung, we have increased innovation speed through scale, resources and competencies to help automakers focus on the car’s evolution from device-centric to experience-centric.”
Of course, displays while moving at 65 mph are very important to be clear and concise for the safety of the vehicle’s occupants. Harman has stepped up its game offering new display technologies for the OEMs and possibly the aftermarket. According to Harman, in-car displays and user experience are going to be the cornerstones in transforming the automotive industry. As in-car screens get larger and the number of screens grows, newer challenges such as power consumption and packaging these screens in the car need to be addressed. Leveraging Samsung’s industry leadership in display technology, Harman-Samsung is taking a two-pronged approach to automotive displays: QLED and OLED.
The new Harman QLED Auto solution will be the first of its kind to introduce automotive-grade Cadmium-free Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Diode (QLED) technology. Harman-Samsung will also bring advanced flexible and transparent Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) displays to the automotive industry. OLED allows placement of displays in curved dashboards, allowing designers or installers to achieve more organic looks in their installations. Moreover, entertainment options for passengers will be nearly endless - and they don’t have to be on their smartphone but on a larger screen in front of them.
Harman’s and Samsung’s two-pronged automotive display strategy with QLED Auto and flexible OLEDs is an example of how the two brands are combining strengths to benefit customers.
Bringing it all together at CES was automaker upstart Byton, who brought an SUV with a sweeping display that went from A-Pillar to A-Pillar. Tesla’s Panasonic-based screen would be jealous. We don’t know if the American public is ready for an IMAX-style dashboard, but a glimpse into the future shows how important automotive screen integration will be.