AVs’ Captive Audience Presents Infotainment Challenge

The future of automotive transportation will be defined by two domains: the driving function and the in-car user experience.

As the driving function becomes more automated and autonomous, the user experience becomes more pronounced and important, which is where infotainment revolution begins. Vehicle cabins will eventually evolve to serve drivers and passengers alike as all-in-one communication, information, productivity and entertainment hubs.

That means consumers can very probably expect an in-cabin experience that is an extension of their digital home or office environment and it will be at the individual’s discretion as to whether they choose to use this newfound time to blast through emails or binge watch TV shows.  “Over time, I see a combination of media content, vehicle specific information and consumer-centric information merging as the automakers look to deliver a seamless and safe ‘consumer-first’ experience in the car with a careful eye on safety and driver distraction,” explained Grant Courville, vice-president of products and strategy at BlackBerry QNX.

He said, whether it’s to make the morning rush hour commute more bearable or to entertain the family on a long road trip, consumers are becoming more demanding of their vehicles and are increasingly looking for seamless in-car experiences that allow them to make the most of their time behind the wheel. “Vehicles are rapidly evolving from rolling networks of proprietary systems to connected mobile platforms,” Courville said. “Automakers are looking to adapt more of ‘platform’ strategy where systems will scale within the vehicle and across vehicle models and vehicle model years.

Aseem Uppal, principal analyst for connected car for IHS Markit, said forthcoming in-car entertainment features are set to define the future of our leisure and playtime in the autonomous world. “Realistically, we are decades away from achieving true autonomy, but several automakers consider in-vehicle displays as a perfect viewing platform for providing in-car entertainment services,” he said. “Rich, real-time location data and an increase in technological awareness are driving many emerging technologies and trends that will define how we spend time in our cars.”

He predicted the emergence of technologies such as AR, VR and mixed reality, which will fundamentally change the way users perceive and interact with their surroundings. In addition, he sees always-on connectivity and the adoption of the connected car as standard options accelerating across the industry. “Owing to fast and ubiquitous wireless connectivity, we will also see significant uptake in in-car commerce and shopping services, HD movies, music services, gaming experiences, and advertisements,” Uppal said. He explained rear-seat entertainment would play an integral role when it comes to adopting in-car entertainment services because front seat video playback is still illegal in most jurisdictions due to driver distraction.

Looking at a long-term future, where autonomous vehicles become the new normal, in-car entertainment will play a key role in how automakers are perceived. “Similar to the lines of automaker’s collaboration with tech companies, open collaboration with content providers or media companies will provide a massive impetus to the automakers,” Uppal said. “Although automakers do play an integral part here, without content providers or media companies, automakers alone won’t be able to bring-in desired benefits for the consumers.”

Nowadays, most automakers such as Ford, GM, Volvo, Mercedes, Audi, Hyundai, FCA, and Kia are starting to play catch-up by improving their infotainment systems. Automakers like Tesla are leading the race with in-car entertainment services. Uppal pointed to their recently added access to Spotify Premium and a “karaoke” library of songs and lyrics available through the center console.

He noted Tesla owners could also connect to Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube account when the car is parked, and Tesla also announced a partnership with gaming company StudioMDHR for its game Cuphead. “Technology and feature deployment is going to be one of the key parameters when it comes to adapting to the new realities,” he said.

In addition, by extending in-car entertainment features beyond the vehicles, a digital ecosystem can be created where consumers can seamlessly connect to music or video services and continue watching from where they left off outside of the vehicle. This inter-connected digital ecosystem will also enable automakers to integrate themselves into consumer’s daily lives by providing a personalized experience.

“As we approach full autonomy, automakers need to rethink their in-car entertainment design strategies that will provide an immersive experience for the users,” Uppal pointed out. “For content providers and media companies, providing a seamless experience across every vehicle segment, different modes of transport, several smart devices can become a challenging task.”

Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive, sees a future where vehicles are able to offer consumers high definition, on-demand content and sophisticated interactivity powered by OTA updatable software. “Imagine a type of simulated environment or virtual reality that lets you feel like you’re driving through the countryside or the mountains, virtual reality,” he said. “There are all types of innovations that will take place, like turning the windshield into an LCD display where you’re flying through space, or in some fictitious world.”

When it comes to the world of gaming, he points to opportunities in VR and AR that incorporate the real-time movements of the car, something that can also help users avoid feeling carsick. Shapiro also noted increased levels of autonomy could impact the way passengers expect to consume entertainment, which could lead automakers away from building fixed screens and more towards concepts involving rotating seats and displays, heads up displays, and projections on multiple interior surfaces.

“The focus should be on designing innovative platforms that give the passengers the ability to craft their own experience,” he said. “There’s a lot of innovation on that front, but regardless of the type of display, the core technology that drives those pixels and creates those HD experiences requires a huge amount of processing horsepower.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *