In the past, consumers slowly made products their own. But as the use of car services grows, so does the demand for automated personalization. Users want to be able to hop in a vehicle and comfortably drive straight away – without wasting time on adjusting their seat or configuring the infotainment system.
There are a number of ways that technologists are making this possible. At intive, for example, experts on Body, Comfort & Connect (BCC) have created “intelligent” car seats that automatically adjust, using a software layer for control units in the car. Although this "low layer" is invisible, it plays an essential role in the user experience, explains Benjamin Donaubauer, our Director BCC at intive.
Benjamin, what role do control units play in the in-car user experience?
Benjamin: In the age of car sharing and smart mobility, a vehicle can have many different users. Each user wants their own space – the seat and mirrors have to be set up right, their favorite radio station or streaming service ready to go, and the air conditioning set to the right temperature.
To ensure that all this can be configured individually, we need control units that move the seats, for example. These devices are equipped with software and are controlled centrally. The better the software, the more seamless the user experience.
Where do you get the user profiles that help create this personalized in-car experience?
Benjamin: We’re always carrying our user profile around with us. My smartphone is already equipped with my music and streaming services, with my preferred apps installed, and my personal information stored on it as well. Then, all I need to do is import my profile into the car-sharing app, and any car that I use will instantly adjust to my preferences and information.
On top of that, introducing the driver’s settings, profiles, and preferences into the car is not only of interest to the end-user but also to manufacturers and service providers. This data can be used to train AI algorithms and inform market research. Knowing what customers want allows you to build better models, make more accurate predictions, and develop products and services that have a higher chance of success in the marketplace.
What's in store for automakers when it comes to control units and user experience?
Benjamin: Smart mobility means that the car is connected to the world. The car's system will be opened up and OEMs will have to coordinate, agree on, and develop more standards. After all, the interoperability of systems is essential for a seamless user experience. Carmakers can’t allow smartphone configuration to become an obstacle for users.
A second important issue is convenience. As autonomous driving advances, the user in the vehicle can be either the driver or a passenger. Switching back and forth requires solid coordination between control units and driving systems and effective orchestration. All of this must run seamlessly and ensure comfort for the user, no matter what role they’re taking.
Conclusion: The challenge of convenience
As mobility transcends the boundaries of a single vehicle and becomes a holistic experience, excellent user experience is more crucial than ever. OEMs need to place their focus on to what extent and how easily their customers can configure and personalize vehicles to ensure maximum comfort and convenience.
Automakers are facing new scenarios of user behavior, as well as open systems in the vehicle. In this new context, control units and driving systems must seamlessly work together so that users can make any vehicle their own and easily switch between being the driver and the passenger. As we know already, convenience is king – and the auto industry is no exception.
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