Autotech Blog

20191209 UX Recap


With thanks to our host, the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance Lab, Autotech Council members and the wider automotive community met today in Santa Clara to take a deep dive into the topic of automotive user experience.  View meeting summary, agenda and attendees here.


The automotive industry is on the brink of a New ICE Age – the Internal Computing Engine – according to our analyst, Gary Silberg, Advisory Partner at KPMG.  From unlocking your vehicle, regulating interior comfort, to the ADAS options currently available, our cars rely on a multitude of chips equaling a $40b market.  In terms of growth, the automotive industry is the second largest consumer of chip technology, with the expected demand for automotive semiconductors to more than quadruple by 2040.  KPMG have identified 4 main trends that will see an explosion in the semiconductor market:

  • Electric Vehicles - requiring twice the number of chips as a traditional ICE
  • Autonomous Vehicles – requiring a massive amount of computing power
  • Connected Vehicles – from “simple” infotainment to complex V2X
  • Mobility as a Service – processing all mobility options into a single service

Gary finished with a cautionary tale, drawing from the tech industry, where the initial explosion in suppliers and propositions eventually condensed into a few key players, and posed the following questions to auto companies and semiconductor companies alike … what are your strategies to be the last man standing? 


This question was echoed by today’s keynote, Devin Liddell, Principal Futurist at Teague as he discussed the lessons OEMs can learn from the airline industry. Passengers are divorced from the “marvel of the machine” as they focus on their flying experience, unable to distinguish between a Boeing or an Airbus, but vocal about comfort and seatback services!  Devin noted how today’s autonomous pods are equally indistinguishable boxes and that it would potentially only take two automakers to combine their market share and revenue and dominate that market, leaving no room for the rest. The new challenge will be to crack intermodality, stitching together of all the mobility elements to own that thin user interface.  New players could enter the market, for example, Starbucks, who already command a network of ubiquitous, convenient locations would be well-placed to become a mobility hub.  And looping back to airlines, many may diversify into intermodality with the airport offering a ready-made hub.  Car makers may find themselves exclusively producing vehicles designed for a demographic, or geographic market.  And as for new markets, Devin proposed a future where pods are school busses by day, and mobile Amazon lockers by night.  Are we destined for a dystopia, where vehicles are used for sleeping, infotainment, and more darker propositions, or a utopia, where our vehicles enhance our lives, or even tackle the issue of the home.


Today’s panel debated the automotive UX evolutions for the past, present and the future with panelists Mathias Leroy, Mobility Business Development at AGC, James Lee, Director of UX at Lucid Motors and Nikhil Gowda, Innovation Project Manager of HMI & UX from Renault/Alliance Innovation Labs leading the conversation.  UX in automotive is a relatively new consideration, with the various elements of vehicle design generally siloed then brought together at the final stage, with user experience the bandaid that’s slapped on at the end of the production line.  The panel all agreed that UX needs to be considered as part of the initial design, with integration and collaboration throughout the development process to make sure that, regardless of powertrain, vehicles can deliver experiences and services consistent with consumer expectations.  User Experience starts outside the car – from the moment you think about travelling – challenging car makers to develop a human centric approach and make the car a touchpoint in the larger life experience.  In the short term, users need solutions to translate the incessant beeping of current ADAS solutions into audible interfaces or transparent displays, with AI employed to filter input and provide the right level of information.  Vehicles need to be developed to ensure car makers deliver experiences that matter to people, including the features that people want in a way that people anticipate they should work. Ultimately, User Experience will be measured by the sense of freedom the vehicle provides, potentially in a mobility as a service scenario rather than individual car ownership.


All our sessions before the break stimulated searching questions and lively conversation that carried over into the break and with the demo companies that joined today’s meeting.  After the break, we heard from 6 companies working on new propositions in the user experience space.


With thanks to our host, to our expert speakers, and to our startup presenters and demo companies.  As always, members can access all of today’s presentations on the Member Library.


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