December 13, 2013

The Potential Impact of NHTSA’s Year-End V2X Decision 
By Brian Daugherty

The worldwide automotive industry is currently working hard to refine and globally harmonize Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication – commonly known as V2X. This technology will improve driver awareness – including collision, hazardous road and curve speed warnings and traffic flow information – and is considered an important step in the effort to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.

Visteon is involved in researching and developing V2X technology, and is a supplier to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Pilot Model Deployment. We’re closely watching – and involved in – various developments and milestones that will determine how quickly the industry moves toward V2X deployment. 

ITS World Congress

At the October Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Tokyo, V2X dominated the discussions. An annual gathering of ITS leaders from around the globe, the World Congress tends to focus on the “next big thing” in technology, and this year it was V2X and autonomous vehicles.  Discussions among industry experts revolved around the global standardization of V2X communications and message sets.  This will result in more cost-effective systems, since auto suppliers will be able to manufacture one V2X module and adapt it to different countries by using slightly different software. 

NHTSA Decision Imminent

In the U.S., we are awaiting the highly anticipated year-end announcement from NHTSA regarding the future of V2X, and we are hopeful that NHTSA will move toward deployment. The six-month extension of the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Safety Pilot in August is considered a positive sign. A few big issues are still being sorted out, including the transfer and handling of electronic “certificates” that ensure privacy and security; however, those can be resolved in the timeframe between the decision point and deployment. Over the last two years, a number of technical issues have been resolved, including my initial fear of system overload if too many vehicles were communicating near one another at the same time. The technology has proven to be quite robust and various “congestion” algorithms have been tested to further reduce the problem.  

FCC Spectrum Issues

Another issue facing V2X in the U.S. is the potential “sharing” of radio spectrum previously dedicated to automotive safety communications. The FCC and Congress are exploring the possibility of opening up the 5.9 GHz spectrum to unlicensed devices (such as Wi-Fi®) – which would be expected to turn off if they detect V2X congestion. This will be very difficult to do in practice, since their interference with V2X communications would occur before they were able to switch modes or stop transmitting. Wi-Fi® should not be allowed to compete with vehicle safety. We need to reserve the vehicle safety communication spectrum for just that – occupant safety. If potential interference is allowed, it will make V2X less capable and less valuable to U.S. drivers.  

A positive NHTSA decision toward deployment will help provide protection for the 5.9 GHz spectrum and provide the framework for the automotive industry to move forward with an important advance in vehicle safety. V2X communication will take years to reach its full potential, but because that potential is so big – we must start down that road now.

Brian Daugherty is an associate director at Visteon Corporation and has global responsibilities for corporate advanced development and intellectual property. Recent projects in his 23-year career include V2X communications, advanced driver awareness systems (ADAS) and the optimization of Visteon’s patent portfolio. Based at Visteon’s corporate offices and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Mich., Daugherty also manages a number of industry and university partnerships.

September 19, 2013

Visteon Expands on Base Functionality of Cameras in the Car
By Anthony Ciatti

There’s a growing trend in today’s vehicles that many consumers may not have seen developing: cameras.

Backup cameras, forward-view cameras for radar-based features, eye-tracking cameras for drowsy-driver applications – the list of cameras making their way into vehicles continues to expand. Along with these cameras, many other applications can be integrated to take advantage of this new hardware.

Visteon recently created a concept to showcase its innovative approach to using cameras in vehicles. Our Camera-Based Cockpit concept was conceived while engineers brainstormed around a video game gesture controller. The team thought it would be a good idea to think of other ways to use cameras in the car. After testing 80-plus potential use cases, we decided to create a demonstration product and work toward tighter integration of the concepts and technologies that the driver can enjoy.

The concept employs three cameras aimed at different points around the vehicle.  The first is the driver camera, situated near the instrument cluster and pointed at the driver's face. The second is the external camera, which would be located in the front of the car, pointing toward the road. The third camera would also be pointed toward the driver, but focusing on their right hand to track gestures – although it could be used for other tasks as well.

At Visteon, we are always asking questions when innovating. Having these cameras work together was a primary goal. With more cameras coming into the vehicle in the near future, why not dual purpose the driver-facing camera so it also captures facial recognition?  And why not also track the driver's facial features?  What can we do with this information?  How can we make the driver's tasks easier? 

The end result is exciting. The driver camera will recognize the person entering the car, allowing the system to load their settings into the system. This could include seat position, phone synchronization, radio favorites, preferred map destinations and a host of other features. This all happens before the driver even shifts into drive. That same camera can track the driver's facial attributes to estimate where their attention is focused, and react accordingly.

Meanwhile, the exterior camera would be scanning the landscape for potential hazards or information. The capability to read road signs and watch for pedestrians exists today, but Visteon sought to take it a step further by making the system “smart” and determining what information the driver actually needs. For example, the driver doesn't need to know that there is no left turn if the vehicle is not in that turn lane. By combining pedestrian detection with driver attribute tracking, the system is able to warn drivers if they are not looking at an oncoming pedestrian and if there is an immediate danger. This is accomplished by using two cameras that are already on many vehicles today.

Another concept we have tested and are introducing is gesture controls. Visteon is working to determine which gestures would be accepted by drivers and to what extent. The camera-based concept demonstrates how, through gestures, the driver can operate the user interface without even touching the screen.

One last potential benefit of using cameras in the vehicle to complete multiple functions is cost reduction. For example, if a camera is located in an area that can see the entire interior, it would also be able to determine if there was someone of the appropriate size to activate the passenger side air bag in the seat. An air bag sensor would no longer be needed. Similar cost-saving ideas should be abundant once the full potential of designing cameras in the car is realized.

With this project, Visteon has demonstrated an eye for innovation by taking a concept with promise and implementing a few new solutions. Combining existing functionality of these cameras – while introducing new features and reducing costs – is a potential win-win for vehicle manufacturers and consumers. 

Anthony Ciatti is an innovation manager with Visteon’s global electronics innovation team. He specializes in discovering new technologies and developing approaches to seamlessly integrate them into vehicles. During his eight-year career, Anthony has worked in software development, controls and product innovation.

July 8, 2013

What is V2X anyway? 
By Brian Daugherty

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication – commonly referred to as V2X – has received significant attention in the media recently and for good reason. During a recent CEA industry conference that focused on the connected vehicle, V2X became a major topic of discussion. These radio-based systems allow vehicles to “talk” to each other as well as with road infrastructure such as traffic signals, intersections and roadside devices.

Current production vehicles may use radar, vision and other sensors to understand the world around them. Based on this information, a driver can be warned of an imminent or potential threat. However, these Advanced Driver Awareness Systems (ADAS) can be quite expensive and may not work well in all weather conditions.

V2X provides automobiles another solution that is very similar to how an aircraft communicates its position to other aircraft and air traffic control. Like aircraft, equipped vehicles send a message out multiple times per second that can include important information like GPS position, speed, intended path and other data such as wheel slippage and brake rate. Electronic modules on properly equipped nearby vehicles can then plot the vehicle’s path and recommend action to the driver if a collision or other dangerous situation is about to occur. 

V2X can also supplement existing ADAS systems by providing additional inputs to corroborate what the radar and vision sensors are detecting and potentially allow those systems to issue earlier warnings. In addition to all-weather capability, one of the biggest advantages of V2X technology is cost. Since it is a short-range, 5.9 GHz radio-based technology, it is far less expensive than radar systems. For more information about V2X and potential use cases, check out this video.

(If you have trouble viewing the video above, you can also watch it on Visteon’s 
Multimedia page.)

The Telematics Update conference this week is devoted to topics around V2X. I’m looking forward to participating in the panel discussions as well as conversations with industry leaders. V2X is an exciting topic that will gain lots of momentum in the upcoming months and I expect to comment on the latest happenings with this technology. What about V2X most intrigues you?

Brian Daugherty is an associate director at Visteon Corporation and has global responsibilities for corporate advanced development and intellectual property. Recent projects in his 23-year career include V2X communications, advanced driver awareness systems (ADAS) and the optimization of Visteon’s patent portfolio. Based at Visteon’s corporate offices and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Mich., Daugherty also manages a number of industry and university partnerships.

May 15, 2013

Artificial Intelligence can unlock the door to an improved user experience, every time you step into the car 
By Shadi Mere

Google’s search engine has become famous for delivering a user experience that is personal, intuitive, simple and indispensable. In fact, for most consumers, the term “Googling” has become synonymous with performing a Web search. You may not realize it, but when you do a Google search, you’re tapping into artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning, cognitive science research applications and behavioral psychology – supported by a large investment in big data mining.

Google is not alone. An increasing number of companies – particularly those that sell portable consumer devices – realize that if their products don’t incorporate some form of artificial intelligence, consumers will perceive them as outdated. This perception has negative implications for their brand image – and auto manufacturers are not immune.

Leading research is uncovering the mechanism by which a brain forms a memory or learns a skill. The brain relies on clusters of neurons that hold bits of information. With synapses firing to firm the connection between these clusters, the frequency and the chemical incentive (ex: dopamine for pleasure or adrenaline for fear) solidifies the connection. Furthermore, we don’t form memories as photographic impressions, but rather as a loose recollection of memories that we detail using imagination, logic and our current emotional state, remembering differently each time.

In artificial intelligence, neural networks are represented to recognize complex patterns, such as an image or even mood. These networks are structured with layers of connected nodes that apply calculations. The nodes and its layers go through learning and training processes through iterative inputs of patterns to categorize information and behaviors. Once the network is fully trained, it becomes capable of instantaneously recognizing patterns and profiles with a large amount of complex data at a speed not possible by humans. Examples include: Google (and other Web) searches, spam filtering, speech recognition, robotics, medical diagnostic systems, and many popular recommendation algorithms (such as those employed by YouTube, Netflix and Amazon).

The HABIT cockpit concept

The Visteon HABIT cockpit concept applies this artificial intelligence approach to the user interface, embodying realistic 3-D graphics and animation to deliver a futuristic vision of human machine interaction (HMI) in the car. The demonstration boldly moves the user experience in a novel direction: an AI logic engine with an evolving learning system that factors short- and long-term memories. This is not an attempt to create a static procedural cycling of use-case routines; instead it’s an AI learning system that adapts with each new input.

The goal of HABIT is to deliver an experience that improves each time the driver uses the ever-aware system. After days, weeks and years of owning this system it is likely that the driver will be disappointed in any other system that does not get to know him or her like the HABIT system does. Additionally, the driver will be able to transfer his or her personalized system of secured knowledge and learning anytime he or she rents a car, shares a car, or upgrades to a new car. Finally, the system will always be relevant, upgrading organically over time to reflect the latest in state-of-the-art AI algorithms, and the latest in our habits.

Our approach at Visteon starts with the Consumer Experience Model. This model is derived from extensive consumer research and is built around the notion of creating the ideal experience for drivers. As opposed to employing “technology for technology’s sake,” Visteon takes great care to ensure that any new technology is vetted against the Consumer Experience Model before it makes its way into a new product concept. Successful organizations do not shoehorn technologies and ignore its shortcomings. This is why our clinical studies are crucial in shaping our concepts. Research during the testing of HABIT showed that consumers liked the concept and rated it high; however, they did have a few concerns and dislikes. The main issues  were around “Big Brother” and the privacy of their data. The consumers also did not care much for an Avatar “Infotendant” and they preferred to hear the infotendant’s voice but not see the image, which they viewed as distracting.

They also expressed dislike for “forced” habits, in other words, performing actions without first asking the consumer. This dynamic was particularly interesting because in general people like to think of themselves as unique and unpredictable; with changing tastes in music and habits. Most research contradicts this notion, showing that consumers are generally much more predictable then they like to believe. This creates an interesting paradox between what consumers believe to be true and reality. Perhaps over time, people’s negative perceptions of being predictable will be outweighed by the convenience of an interface that is much easier to operate.

(If you have trouble viewing the video above, you can also watch it on Visteon’s Multimedia page.)

In light of our consumer research findings, the HABIT concept changed to reflect a few important improvements: Examples include:
  1. Personal data and profiles are secured and can be locked to the person’s phone, Cloud account or their personal voice identification print. Alternatively, the system can be switched to an agonistic identification mode altogether.
  2. The visual infotendant was eliminated with interactions limited to voice only.
  3. The system user interface (UI) looks similar to a typical UI. Visually it does not behave differently based on habits; it only shows faint “bread crumbs” highlighting a path to the default predicted habit. The UI also prompts the user to engage its recommendations - they are never forced. Alternatively, the AI can be turned off altogether so that the system can revert to a more traditional operating mode.
  4. The approach starts simply and without a learning curve. However, it is possible for the user to customize the system AI settings to a very deep level, satisfying both the passive user and the technophile.

Moving forward, the ongoing challenge for this technology will be creating a system that is dynamically learning, but at the same time does not cross the line into being intrusive or annoying. The AI is dogmatic, yet it must be simple to perceive, while being accurate and  robust. Ultimately the goal is to create a system that makes us bond with it as it bonds with our habits.

The Visteon HABIT Cockpit Concept

The Future: Multiple Intelligence

If an area of the brain that processes sight is totally damaged, can we see again? What does the above question have to do with the car?

Research indicates that, contrary to long-held beliefs, areas of the brain are not rigid centers for specific tasks, but can evolve to take on sensory skills that were thought to exist strictly in specialized areas. Given enough training and stimulation, severely damaged areas in the brain that process sight can be delegated to other areas of the brain – like the parts that process hearing. Similarly, one day your car’s “brain” might be able to compensate for a damaged sensor by having a different sensor (with a different purpose) take on a quick AI learning pattern to process the critical information. There are also broad implications of how our brains handle multi-tasking, automated tasks, concentration and distraction. Our brains can adapt to certain tasks, experiences or even a new vehicle (HMI), but they have difficulty with true multitasking. (Instead, we have become very good at “task switching.”) AI, on the other hand, can multitask. For example, in the future one can imagine scenarios in which cars can talk to one another and simultaneously apply learning to blind spots, weather conditions, traffic rules, impaired drivers and complex driving patterns – amounts of information that humans simply can’t process quickly enough to make the best decision. Eventually, AI will be able to adapt to perform tasks that (today) we consider to be uniquely human.

At some point, artificial intelligence will be ubiquitous, making our lives much more productive in both expected and unexpected ways. This technology could be seen in vehicles in as soon as five years from now.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. Are you ready for AI in the car?  What features in the car do you feel would benefit the most from applying this technology? 

Shadi Mere is an innovation manager with Visteon’s “Innovation Works” team. He works on advanced innovation, “disruptive” technology, human-machine interaction, creative design management, consumer experience research and high-technology trends. During his 17-year career, Shadi has worked in engineering design, advanced manufacturing, product development and strategy, and program management -- with a focus on bringing promising inventions to life. 

April 30, 2013

Driving a culture of innovation
By Tim Yerdon

It’s been a memorable month for the global Visteon Team. Two weeks ago we started our extended “Innovation Week” with the PACE awards and SAE Congress; today we wrapped it up with the closing of our exhibit at the 2013 Shanghai auto show.

During the 10 days of the show, we had a tremendous response to Visteon products and innovations from media, industry partners and key customers. Here are some “quick stats” on those who visited our exhibit:
  • 500 customers
  • 30 different OEMs represented
  • 35 senior executives 
While the positive customer feedback … the product solutions … the eye-catching exhibit are all nice, none of this is possible without a great team to deliver it! 

A well-known business leader in the Detroit area is fond of saying, “Innovation is rewarded, execution is worshipped.” I truly believe this. While many have great ideas and vision, only those who execute are successful in the marketplace. At Visteon, this encompasses those working on our future products and those who make the business run each day. Events like the Shanghai show help drive positive energy back into the broader organization and further instill a culture of innovation. Our employees capitalize on that innovative spirit to do great things for customers.

On behalf of Visteon, I thank all those involved in the Shanghai show – including those on the front lines, who spent 10 consecutive days supporting our booth, as well as those behind the scenes – whose countless hours made the “execution” nearly flawless. We were energized and humbled by the high level of interest in our technologies from customers and media – it drives us to keep raising the bar on the value we deliver.

While reflecting on the positive vibes from Shanghai, we’re already looking ahead. Next up: Key customer technical reviews throughout Asia, our largest market, to drive business opportunities in China, Japan, India and Korea.

The past month reminded me that the auto industry is as dynamic and exciting as ever. I look forward to sharing more insights down the road. 

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

April 20, 2013

Shanghai, Media Day – e-Bee takes center stage as Visteon exhibit opens

By Tim Yerdon

Note: Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and all others impacted by the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province.

We put forth a great team effort today to officially “launch” Visteon’s booth at Auto Shanghai 2013, and to host the first of many customers at this terrific show.

Our president and CEO, Tim Leuliette, kicked things off at the opening ceremony for our exhibit, with some insightful remarks about the importance of this show and the China market to Visteon and the industry. I followed with some observations about what we’re calling “innovation week” for Visteon. Our leadership team then unveiled the centerpiece of our exhibit: the e-Bee vehicle concept. The cheers that greeted the introduction of this widely heralded vehicle signaled that Visteon’s participation in Auto Shanghai 2013 was officially under way!

Here’s a recap of what I shared with the Visteon representatives from around the world who are staffing our booth, as well as media and customers who attended our opening ceremony:

It’s an honor to be here representing Visteon and its global family of businesses at one of the most exciting automotive events in the world. This has been and continues to be a great week for Visteon. In addition to being here at the Shanghai auto show to demonstrate our latest innovations …
  • On Monday, in Detroit, Halla Visteon Climate Control (HVCC) took home the prestigious Automotive News PACE Award for our metal seal fitting in the product innovation category. HVCC also was a finalist in the manufacturing process category, while Visteon Electronics was a finalist for its innovative reconfigurable instrument cluster that debuted on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Visteon was strongly represented at the largest technical gathering of automotive engineers in the world – the SAE World Congress in Detroit – where experts from across our family of businesses presented seven technical papers.
With these major events occurring at the same time, I consider this “innovation week” for Visteon. It reminds us that this industry is “driven” by the global products we all create to profitably move our businesses forward.

Now let’s talk about the star of the show: the e-Bee. This vehicle concept represents a true innovation platform for the company. It brings together the best of our family of businesses to demonstrate our vision for the future of mobility in 2020. Featuring more than 35 innovations driven by our customer and consumer insights, the e-Bee provides the ultimate tool to demonstrate our knowledge, value and product solutions to customers. Significantly, it integrates innovations from across Visteon’s enterprises: HVCC, Visteon Electronics, Visteon Interiors and our China joint venture, Yanfeng Visteon.

By working collaboratively around the world, our teams have disrupted conventional thinking about how we enhance “life-on-board” the vehicle and provide the ultimate user experience. We invite you to experience the e-Bee vehicle concept and all of the other great innovations at our exhibit.

Flying into Shanghai just a couple of days ago, I had high hopes for the interest and enthusiasm that our e-Bee and great product lineup would generate at Auto Shanghai 2013. So far, the reaction has exceeded even my lofty expectations. Along with the rest of the Visteon team, I’m looking forward to another great week ahead. 

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

Shanghai, Day Two: A glimpse at the future, as the auto show revs up
By Tim Yerdon

It’s been another fulfilling day in Shanghai. My day started at the Interior Motives China Conference, where Yanfeng Visteon presented the China version of the future of mobility – the cousin of Visteon’s e-Bee vehicle concept. It was a great presentation that included a video and panel discussion. Confirming the future that we have predicted for some time, this group of thought leaders – which included VW and Toyota – talked about the transition of interior design from molded plastic to enhancing the in-vehicle experience through creative uses of technology. These enhancements range from graphic design for the electronics . . .  to interior lighting across the cabin . . . to more flexible architectures and open software systems that allow rapid change. These are all capabilities that Visteon can provide from within our family of businesses.

While this event provided an opportunity to get a pulse of future trends, it was even more rewarding to see that our customers are looking forward to visiting our booth at the Shanghai show and experiencing our vehicle solutions. This confirms that the innovation process we employed on the e-Bee speaks a language that our customers understand. There was particular interest in how we mass produce globally while differentiating for various regions.

Later in the day, at the Auto Shanghai venue, I had the opportunity to see the finishing touches being made at the Visteon booth – C015 in Hall N5. What a great effort by the team after many months of planning! This will be one of the benchmark booths in our hall; as a tier one supplier, we’re quite proud. Complementing our booth is the nearby  HASCO booth, where Yanfeng Visteon will be demonstrating its deep knowledge and capabilities for the local market.

I’m looking forward to the opening ceremonies with our leadership team, supporting staff and technical experts. I often remind myself that automotive is a product-driven industry and we need to constantly deliver innovative solutions that exceed our customers’ expectations … to help them sell more vehicles. Over the next nine days, we’ll be participating in a major global auto show, demonstrating our best innovations and product technologies, and having rich dialogue with our customers at a vehicle, system and component level. It doesn’t get much better. 

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

April 19, 2013

Shanghai, Day One: Three Dozen Reporters and One Great Vehicle Concept

By Tim Yerdon

What a day – high energy, lots of questions from the media and a great supporting team! This was one of the most intense media days in which I’ve participated. At our technical center in Shanghai, we hosted 15 journalists at a morning session and 20 reporters in the afternoon. Each session opened with an overview presentation on the e-Bee vehicle concept, followed by a question-and-answer session. The journalists then were given the opportunity to sit in the e-Bee and speak with one of the experts  on the project. Simultaneously, I spoke with several reporters who wanted more information about our innovation process and the creation of the e-Bee.

Both sessions went longer than expected, but I felt it was from pure interest in the project, not due to any lack of understanding – since our digital assets gave media the necessary background to “dive” into some good questions. The real surprise to me was the interest in the “process of innovation” and the features and functions we incorporate for the different regions. Naturally, the technologies featured on the e-Bee for China garnered the most attention.  I’m curious how other companies view the China market with their vehicle concepts. What would you expect to see?

The consumer research we conducted in China last year with our partner YanFeng Visteon is going to pay dividends now. We have a strong China story that’s relevant to the overall e-Bee concept, and a keen understanding of the persona of a vehicle buyer in China today.  This will be exciting to see in action when the auto show opens, since we’ll be able to direct customers between the Yanfeng Visteon and Visteon booths. This event will be a true testament to collaboration within the Visteon family of companies.

As I write this, we’re loading up the e-Bee vehicle for delivery to its next stop:  The Shanghai New International Expo Centre for Auto Shanghai 2013. 

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

April 18, 2013

Moving into the fast lane in Shanghai
By Tim Yerdon

Upon arriving in Shanghai, I quickly turned my attention to the many industry and company events surrounding Auto Shanghai 2013. Today we’re hosting more than 30 journalists at our China Technical Center for a special unveiling of the e-Bee vehicle concept before the show begins. As the e-Bee begins the China leg of its world tour, we anticipate the same positive reactions received in Europe and the U.S. Our local customers will get to experience the vehicle at the auto show on Saturday. In addition to the e-Bee, attendees will see our latest products from the Visteon family of businesses.

After the media review, I’ll participate in the CarDesign Awards – sponsored by Car Design News and Interior Motives – showcasing student work from around the world. This is always a great event, providing a glimpse of what the future holds by featuring work from the next generation of designers. It’s always well attended by our key customers.   

On Friday, I’ll go to the InteriorMotives Conference and hear a presentation by one of my colleagues, Shizuki Kajiyama, director of design for Yanfeng Visteon. Shizuki will discuss how designers can create a vehicle experience that encompasses a versatile work, rest and play environment to meet a multitude of vehicle owner needs.

Then on the Saturday it’s the main event: Auto Shanghai 2013. The excitement around this major auto show is enormous. The China market – which Visteon knows very well – is increasingly vital for automotive suppliers. It’s crucial to continually sharpen our understanding of what products and features appeal to the consumers here. When we innovate for our customers, we always need to think about how we support their global needs, while offering regional differentiation. Auto Shanghai 2013 provides a great forum for showcasing our capabilities to do just that.

I’m looking forward to a busy week. 

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

April 17, 2013

Visteon “Innovation Week”
By Tim Yerdon

This week kicks off a flurry of product-driven activities for Visteon across the globe. As I write this, I’m eight hours into a 14-hour flight to Shanghai to support our activities related to the auto show, including a variety of customer, media and industry events.

This series of events began Monday evening with the 19th annual Automotive News PACE Awards ceremony in Detroit. After attendees paid their respects to victims of the tragedy in Boston, the attention quickly shifted to exciting new products driving our industry. A total of 33 finalists were in the spotlight, including Visteon’s instrument cluster on the Lincoln MKZ, and Halla Visteon Climate Control’s metal seal fitting and swash plate assembly method. I had the opportunity to attend a pre-ceremony event to gather some additional insights from the judges as to what they’ll be looking for in 2014. There’s a visible transformation on the horizon, as the world of consumer electronics, software, connectivity and the ideal user experience takes on more prominence; it’s just not about chassis and powertrain technologies anymore. I reflected on how Visteon started the year by showing our e-Bee vehicle concept at CES in Las Vegas in January – and how the impact and influence of consumer electronics on the automotive world continues to grow.

PACE is considered the “academy awards” of the automotive industry and this event brought out the “best of the best” supplier innovations from around the world. I was extremely proud of the HVCC team for winning a product innovation award for the metal seal fitting, and of the Visteon teams for making it to the finalist stage – an achievement in itself. The PACE ceremony opens the SAE 2013 World Congress, which this year features seven presentations by Visteon and HVCC technical experts. Unfortunately, I’m not able to participate this year as this whirlwind week continues.

Soon it will be “wheels down” in Shanghai. Follow my posts this week as I’ll provide thoughts and insights on the many activities taking place in China.

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.

January 7, 2013

How to Fine-Tune Advanced Development:
Use Consumer Research
By Upton Bowden

The typical design process starts by thinking of a “good” idea that improves something or resolves an issue. Engineers then take that idea and create possible solutions. However, there are often many possible ways to solve a problem. How do engineers know which solution to choose? Certainly, all options need to be optimized around a set of criteria like cost, weight, size, etc. Yet, all too often, our industry sees designs rejected by consumers even though the design criteria appear to have been satisfied. Where’s the apparent disconnect?

This lack of end-user acceptance often results when engineers did not fully understand the consumer. Design iterations often solve consumer approval issues, but this can be very expensive and slow.  To ensure our products meet the needs of our intended audience, Visteon conducts advanced consumer research clinics that support the design and development of advanced automotive electronic concepts in the early stages of development.

The engineering and innovation teams at Visteon generate many new concepts each year. However, before investing too many resources or committing to a specific solution, the research team builds methods for demonstrating advanced technologies to automotive consumers. In 2012, Visteon tested seven new concepts with automotive consumers in North America, Germany and France. Consumers experienced next-generation concepts over several hours and responded to a number of usability and affinity questions. These questions enable engineers to understand how consumers view and use the advanced concepts. Additionally, Visteon applies its “Idea Electronics Product Model” to identify how the concepts resonate with consumers and, specifically, which attributes meet or do not meet expectations.

Visteon completed Advanced Consumer Research Clinics in August and September of 2012. The results were then applied to our latest advanced automotive concepts – including the e-Bee vehicle concept we’re showing at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas from Jan. 8-11.

Interested in seeing the product designs that were tested? Would you like to learn more about the results from the research clinic? Stop by the Visteon booth in the Central Plaza during CES and ask how Visteon uses consumer research to improve next-generation cockpit electronics.  Select this link to view a video of one of the consumer tested products, Visteon’s Ideal Occupant Interface.

Upton Bowden is an electronics marketing and portfolio planning manager at Visteon responsible for identifying innovative concepts and developing compelling automotive applications. Upton leads consumer research clinics to evaluate advanced concepts and study user acceptance. During his 21-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product design, program management, marketing and technical sales at Visteon and Ford Motor Company.