If you thought last year was an exciting year for the automotive industry, then put your seatbelt on for 2019. There are many factors weighing in on the future of auto makers and vehicle trends for this year. Like any industry, there is a series of challenges expected with growth and change.
Augmented reality will assist driver safety and impact areas from designing to repair.
While virtual reality creates a simulated world, augmented reality adds specific, created elements to the real world via technology. In the auto industry, some AR solutions should begin to appear in 2019, starting with smart head-up displays and infotainment displays followed by apps for repair shops. Cars are complicated machines, so AR can help mechanics visualize what needs to be fixed before touching a wrench. Another area for AR is in designing or selecting a car where various vehicle elements — from the overall shape to the seats and interior features — can be pre-seen, thus saving extensive time and money. Certainly, prototyping isn’t anything new in the automotive sector, but AR takes it to a whole new level.
In a clear trend at CES 2018, three automotive equipment makers presented augmented reality (AR) concepts for the car, which could greatly enhance safety by placing warnings and environment information right on the windshield. Rather than distracting, this imagery serves to highlight objects around the car.
Harman includes AR as a feature of its Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution (LIVS); Continental showcased AR as the fruits of a partnership with holographic projector maker DigiLens; and Visteon made AR part of a new head-up display concept. All of these companies supply electronics to major automakers, and used CES to show off their latest technologies.
Head-up displays, which show vehicle information at the base of the windshield within the driver’s view, have gained traction in recent years, appearing on many car models. These displays typically show vehicle speed and navigation directions, so the driver doesn’t need to look away from the road. AR goes beyond head-up display technology by using GPS and sensors to pick out objects in the car’s environment, calling out those objects for the driver. AR can be very helpful in urban environments where the amount of traffic, pedestrians and signage becomes overwhelming.
Automakers, technology companies and glass manufacturers are teaming up to turn the display that graces the front of an iPhone into the windshield of a car — one that can show ads, directions and vehicle information to the person behind the wheel. The advent of connected cars is creating a new sales battleground, and using a windshield may be the next way to pitch more products and services to consumers. McKinsey & Co. estimates that mobile and data-driven services in autos will generate $1.5 trillion by 2030. At least part of that will be spent projecting information to drivers and passengers right before their eyes.
“When you think of a person driving and what your needs are when you’re on a typical trip, it’s food, it’s fuel and it’s rest stops,” said John Butler, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. “Owning the inside of the car is critical, it’s really where the money is made. The real value is locked up in the ad opportunity.”
How might a smart windshield work?
A driver who is close to running out of gas would see an alert pop up that notes the fuel situation and offers to find a gas station. The car’s virtual assistant will offer a choice, again on the windshield, of two options, including directions to a station where the driver is eligible for a free cup of coffee — an ad placed by the gas company that fits with the driver’s buying patterns, also known by his smart car.
At CES, the last gadget show in Las Vegas, Panasonic demonstrated technology that lets a driver order and pay for fast food through a display, before pulling off the freeway. Pairing such offerings with other connected subscription services could generate hundreds of dollars in additional recurring revenue per car each year, according to Tom Gebhardt, the head of Panasonic’s automotive business in North America.
“When you start doing payments out of the vehicle, you have to secure those payments somehow, so we’re matching the facial recognition with your credit card,” he said. “We’re really investing in an integrated solution.”