December 3, 2015

What Do Consumers Want? It Depends How They Feel
By Judy Blessing, Manager of Market and Trends Research, Visteon Europe

Consumers who have tried to choose exactly the right type of mobile phone, game console or fitness device for their particular needs understand how difficult the process can be. Think of all the factors that go into the decision: How easy is it to personalize? Will the primary use be a camera, navigation device or communicator? How convenient are the icons, input commands and gesture controls?

However, when people buy their most expensive mobile device—a new car—they usually have fewer choices in the cockpit. Designers and engineers need to ensure that the cockpit displays and human-machine interaction (HMI) in your vehicle are built to accommodate individual needs. For this reason, Visteon regularly probes consumer attitudes and preferences in product clinics across the globe, to elicit feedback on what they desire at a particular time in a given geography.

Through research, we learn not only how well a system functions but also how operating that system makes the user feel. We are interested in why people react differently to similar products, which helps us determine strengths and weaknesses.

Wanted:  Simple and Intuitive Controls

Consumers often value safety as most important when ranking vehicle technology, followed by controls that are simple to use and intuitive. Ultimately, they judge vehicle technologies based on what they know and like from the consumer electronics marketplace. In other words, consumers always compare what is in their cockpit to what is in their pocket.

But what people in one country may perceive as simple or intuitive often is far different from the perceptions of people in other nations. For example, Visteon studies have found:

  • Americans seek an intuitive experience like displays with brightly colored buttons, text-based controls with icons for reference, an overview layout of all available options, and a large interactive touch screen for interactive control.
  • Consumers in China, on the other hand, prefer neutral colors on the screen and icon-based controls with text for reference.
  •  In France, Germany and other European Union countries, consumers desire a master controller over touch screens and focused task content on the display, with minimal and muted colors.

More analysis is available in this online presentation.

Lessons from Consumer Research

Visteon incorporates these results when designing cockpit displays and controls, considering both the intuitive nature of the design and its practical benefits to consumers. 

Following are the top five lessons from recent research studies:

  1.  Expectations change dynamically. Expectations are formed from the overall consumer environment – particularly consumer electronics. Drivers expect a gesture-activated HMI will compare similarly to their gaming consoles at home. These expectations vary by geography and by the state of consumer electronics.
  2. Consider the user experience holistically.  Look at the entire experience – not only what the driver touches but what he or she feels when touching it, along with expectations of craftsmanship. The user experience always combines the practical with the emotional.
  3. The user experience is front- and back-end related. While the front end is the HMI – what the consumer sees and interacts with – the back end must be capable of supporting the experience the consumer anticipates. Systems must deliver simple and intuitive operations.
  4. User experience foundations are global, but must incorporate regional differences. Around the world, all consumers want safety, simplicity and intuitive controls, but they define these aspects differently. Flexibility must be considered when developing global platforms.
  5. Measuring the user experience is subjective. We can objectively measure interaction times and usability. Yet, how the system makes the consumer feel depends on his or her expectations and background. Therefore, a good deal of subjective research must be conducted with consumers, using pictures and other techniques, to discover common threads that may trigger the desired response.
Ideally, every product should be checked against consumer expectations for safety, ease of use, reliability, intuitive operation and its customization for each user’s individual concept of what it should be and do. Since those expectations can change as quickly as technology, it’s important to fully understand and stay ahead of trends.

Judy Blessing brings 17 years of research experience to her manager position in market and trends research. Her in-depth knowledge of all research methodologies allow her to apply the proper testing and analysis to showcase Visteon´s automotive intellect to external customers and industry affiliates, Judy holds a German University Diploma degree in marketing/ market research

November 2, 2015

An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Resume Noticed  

By Kenya Bulluck, Associate Director, Talent Management, Global Programs and Policies

At Visteon, we hire experienced professionals across the globe for all types of positions in engineering and other fields. Naturally, the qualifications and skills we seek vary considerably among regions and job categories, but some practices apply to our hiring processes for positions at any Visteon location.

In the application, interview and follow-up stages for every job opening, certain factors guide us in our selections. We’ll explore those areas in this series of blog posts to help you, as a candidate, ensure that you are at your best during interactions with Visteon.

The hiring process begins with your resume. If you follow these six tips, you’ll have a good chance of moving your resume toward consideration:

  • DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF – Using a template from Word or other boilerplate designs doesn’t add value. Your resume should be creative, but also succinct and easy to read. Place a summary at the top, and use a bulleted format. You have about 15 seconds to convince the recruiter to read further.
  • MAKE IT RELEVANTIn some locations, we use software to identify keywords in resumes based on the descriptions of jobs for which candidates are applying. For technology roles, those keywords might relate to specific software, platforms or systems experience critical to the position. I recommend candidates thoroughly review the job description, and align your interest and experience accordingly, since managers are looking for specific information and put considerable effort into matching the right people with open positions. Focus your time and effort applying for jobs for which you’re qualified.
  • KEEP YOUR PROFILE CURRENT – LinkedIn is the primary online resource we use to find people who may not directly apply but who may be ideal for an open position. We match profiles from LinkedIn with our job descriptions and frequently discover highly qualified candidates. Be sure your profile is current and includes newly acquired skills and new technologies that you’ve mastered. Be aware that no Visteon recruiter will ever ask you for personal information, such as your social security number or financial information, nor require you to purchase your own equipment for employment.
  • BE ACCURATE Our managers have immediately rejected candidates whose resumes contained spelling errors. If you can’t take the time to ensure your resume is accurate, chances are errors would show up in your work as well. Also, don’t inflate your experience. If you stretch the truth, it will become evident during the interview stage—or worse, after you’re hired. Instead, present some good examples of your experience; for technology roles, state when and where you have used particular technologies.
  • SHOW INTEREST – Visteon’s social media channels provide insight into what the company does and our corporate culture. It may help your chances if we are aware of you through posts or comments on Visteon’s social sites, but be thoughtful in your commentary. We pay special attention to those who follow a lot of Visteon employees and Visteon as a company. We want candidates who are interested in us.
  • TAKE INITIATIVEIf you’re truly interested in Visteon, join our Talent Network and sign up for alerts so you’ll be notified as soon as a position becomes available. We try to fill open jobs within 90 days; the sooner you apply, the more quickly you’re placed in the candidate pool. Above all, learn who we are and what we do before you begin the application process.

The most important thing you can do when applying is to be honest. This applies to your resume and the job interview.  You’re best served by representing yourself as exactly who you are, and we’ll do the same. We want our relationship with you to be a great long-term partnership.

As global strategic staffing associate director, Kenya Bulluck brings 18 years of human resources experience to lead recruiting at Visteon. During her career, Kenya has been on the forefront of utilizing new technology and platforms that have revolutionized the recruiting and hiring process for professionals, college graduates and interns.  Kenya received an MBA in Human Resources from Michigan State University and is an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the American Society of Employers.

August 19, 2015

3-D Hits Your Dashboard

By Chris Round, Technical Sales Manager, Cockpit Electronics

Peek down the aisle of your favorite electronics store today and your eyes are likely to pop. Your HDTV that was a leading-edge entertainment center just a year or two ago already is tumbling over the edge of obsolescence.

Today the banner of innovation flies over 65-inch 4K Ultra HD smart TVs, with four times the pixel count of HD. Moreover, the same TV set also supports 3-D image – along with a Web browser, apps and a voice-activated remote. In the next aisle, you’re likely to discover new virtual-reality devices for mobile phones that immerse consumers in video environments.

Now, sit in your car and compare those with your vehicle displays. Even if your car uses colorful digital graphics, most displays show a flat, two-dimensional image.

Take heart. The auto industry is working hard to adopt the trends erupting in consumer electronics. Some automakers are designing displays to look more like consumer tablets, no longer embedding them in the instrument panel. For both driver information and infotainment, they are moving away from traditional layered menu systems to more of a flat consumer style interfaces with icons or tabs.

However, making the instrument cluster more interesting and customizable has been more challenging. The instrument cluster needs to convey information at a glance so designers have held onto 2-D and mechanical gauges to which drivers are accustomed. Yet, updated approaches soon will change even the venerable speedometer and fuel gauge.

A traditional cluster incorporates two large mechanical gauges with moving pointers, separated by a small to medium size display that renders 2-D images. However, many vehicle manufacturers are asking for enhanced graphical image quality with increased resolution. This is perceived to provide better quality, as users now expect the same image quality as high-end consumer devices.

With the advent of even more advanced driver assistance systems, automotive manufacturers need to provide more information to the driver, which necessitates larger displays. This has resulted in the adoption of fully reconfigurable instrument clusters where traditional mechanical gauges, small displays and warning telltales are replaced by one larger TFT display – typically 12.3 inches. Some carmakers have started presenting the graphics using 3-D rendering, however most have tried to replicate a traditional mechanical gauge look and feel. The challenge with 3-D rendering is that that objects assume more of a 3-D appearance when they are moving around the screen, because the shadows, reflection and lighting on the object is changing; the eye is tricked into thinking it is a solid object. Traditional gauges and most instrument cluster images are stationary, so it is difficult to make those objects look truly three-dimensional in a 2-D display.

3-D displays have been available for some time and have been used in the consumer industry, but have not been adopted in the automotive industry due to a number of constraints with the technology such as eye strain, limited or restricted angle viewing and potential nausea. Some even require glasses which would be unacceptable for an automotive application.

A new multi-layer display technology has been developed that allows stationary objects to appear three dimensional and solid. This multi-layer cluster uses the same thin-film-transistor (TFT) screen technology used in TVs, smartphones and cars but has two panels—with one screen placed in front of the other. A proprietary graphics rendering plug-in partitions shading and color between the two layers to make the objects appear solid and three-dimensional. The dial of the gauge may be on the background TFT, while the pointer and rim are depicted on the front screen, producing the 3-D effect. The current resolution of this multi-layer cluster is 1280 x 480 per screen, and within two years it will likely increase to 1920 x 720.

This technology not only provides solid 3-D looking objects, but has the benefit of being totally reconfigurable so the graphics and layout can be completely changed at the touch of a button. The cluster can be customized by the automaker for different vehicle models and brands, and potentially by the driver to match his or her preferences.

This 3-D cluster is only the beginning of automotive three-dimensional graphics design. As autonomous vehicles begin cruising the highways in future years, the cluster will likely become more immersive – showing buildings, landscapes and obstacles surrounding the vehicle. When steering wheels are not needed, the cluster screen can display 3-D movies, games or video calls.

When you drive away from the electronics store, be kind to your old-school in-vehicle electronics; it’s on its way out, too.

Chris Round is a technical sales manager at Visteon. He has 26 years of experience in the automotive electronics field and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. He is responsible for developing instrument cluster and HUD design proposals for Visteon’s customers as well as presenting new product technology. Chris is an active member of the SAE and enjoys motorsports as well as mountain and road biking.