When it comes to unique car designs and innovative vehicles, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is heaven on Earth in America, just like the Geneva Motor Show is now in Europe. That doesn’t mean Mobile World Congress lacked in show-stoppers on four wheels. On the contrary – Mercedes was a front-runner there, as well as the shiny and fierce Formula 1. Call us weird, but we were more interested to see what would the industry offer us in the short and long run, so we stopped Jeff Jury, General Manager of Automotive at Xperi, for a quick chat. #mwc18
First things first: autonomy. This is a macro trend, if we think about it – the shift in our and carmakers’ interest is being seen and felt for a while now and… there’s no going back. But why is the industry moving so slow? When will the vast majority of us get to try a driverless car out? Jeff barely had time to draw breath before we asked him our most burning questions.
“The cars that are on the road now were designed four years ago”, he explained patiently. So, really there’s at least a four year delay between having the tech and bringing it to the market. Add to that people’s attitude when it comes to cars and… you’ll probably see your kids riding in one, if you’re lucky: “A lot of people keep their car for 10 years. Thinking of that and how often you can upgrade everything, it’s going to be a while until we get to [full] autonomous level.” An entire autonomous universe won’t happen very soon.
The more autonomy you’ll have, the safer [driving] will be
A second trend we can talk about is safety behind the wheel. Until we get to Level 5 of autonomy, companies will do their best to monitor drivers and keep them focused on the road. “A car is really a big cellphone on wheels. You can do everything you can do on a phone although there are some fundamental differences. Some of them have to do with safety”, added Jeff, referring in particular to DMS. Couple that with cloud networks and, suddenly, carmakers and software companies are “able to monitor the driver, use that information and play it back”.
Speaking of networks, connectivity was perhaps the most talked about automotive trend at MWC. Not just 5G connectivity for mobile devices, but for cars as well. Jeff told us Xperi is riding the wave, as well: “It’s [all] about driving connectivity [today]. Be it connected radio or even our DMS, there are a number of things we’re doing to enable a richer consumer experience in the vehicle. Radio is an old technology but when you digitise it, you create a bigger data pipe. ”
Manufacturers are pushing this digitisation enthusiastically, so much so that “cars are starting to lead digital lives”.
So, how will those digital extensions of us look like in the face of current industry technologies and roadblocks? Jeff has seen some great examples at MWC: “Byton has a new car that’s really about the digital life and Mercedes is showing some of their new dash screens… it’s all about creating a better experience for the consumer”.
Is customization the fourth trend in automotive? You betcha! In the future, Jeff believes that “instead of using the car […] to get somewhere, people will get in the car and enjoy that experience, however they want to customize it.”
A car with a life of its own that can enrich our time on Earth, not just be a means to an end? That sounds awesome to us! What do you think?