October 14, 2014

Opportunity to Embrace Emerging Technology Feels Like Déjà Vu 

By Chris Andrews

I love music, sports, news and morning and evening drive radio shows – and I’m not alone. Historically, we were limited in the ways we could obtain this content, so I find it exciting today that I can get all these programs in more ways and in more places than ever before. This is the opportunity for today and beyond. I say opportunity because I feel like this is Déjà vu. Let me explain.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was in the music, advertising, radio, video and film business. All the content was developed on, delivered through, and experienced using analog technology. Because it used analog, there were limited ways to create, deliver and experience these types of media.

As the ‘90s progressed, the digital era changed the music and video industries drastically. I could pick a side and debate the plusses and minuses of digital technology, but I would rather discuss the introspective this ‘game changer’ created. This new capability forced the industry to reexamine itself. Everyone had to adapt or die, because the current business model wasn’t going to survive. There were winners and losers from that era, as there are in any industry. But it was not the death of these industries, it was just evolution. The reality is that you can still get music and videos, but how they are created, delivered and experienced is completely different.

At the beginning of the 21st century I, like many others, adapted. I changed industries to what is now called the mobility industry. For me this was a natural evolution.

2014= Déjà vu.

For roughly the last 10 years, the radio, TV, advertising and film industries have been experiencing a similar digital evolution. Today the pace is accelerating. This digital evolution is often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, the Digital Lifestyle, or even the connected vehicle. Consumers (including me) expect their music, sports, news, AM/FM drive radio shows, and anything else they might want, anytime and everywhere. Today we have traditional radio, satellite radio, Internet radio and video, subscription media services and digital media purchase models – just to name a few. This will continue leading to new opportunities. Industries, companies, and people must once again adapt to survive and excel.

I am excited, intrigued, and inspired every day to face the future. We have the opportunity to improve lives, health, relationships, environments and the world, but only if we do it correctly. The next generation of mobility, electronics, media, content delivery and communities will be different. We have to use our imaginations, collaborate and adapt.

This is not a “younger generation” phenomenon, as some might say. The bar is set higher, and will also address the aging population, all regions and cultures of the world, and new ways that people and organizations will interact.

Adapt or perish. There will be winners and losers from this era just like there were from the last digital evolution.

This is why I am thrilled this week to be part of the DASH connected car conference in Detroit on Oct. 15-16. This event brings together many industries and leaders to discuss the 2014 digital evolution 2014, and the new paradigms it will create. 

Christopher Andrews is Leader of Emerging Technologies at Visteon Corporation. Since joining Visteon in 2000, he has served in various roles in the company, from engineering, program management and business development to his present role. His responsibilities within the emerging technologies group include identifying and developing the next generation of connected vehicles, fusion and mobility solutions. Key to these solutions is the seamless mobility experience that customers will expect in future vehicle environments.

August 28, 2014

Excitement Builds for ITS World Congress in Wake of Proposed V2X Rulemaking

By Brian Daugherty

NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have been quite busy since February, when they announced plans to proceed with rulemaking to require V2X (Vehicle-to-Vehicle, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, etc.) communication hardware in future U.S. light vehicles. This will be a hot topic at the upcoming Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Detroit.

On Aug. 18, NHTSA followed up its February announcement with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that officially gets the process started. This is an important step as the industry moves toward V2X implementation in the U.S.  At the same time, NHTSA released a research report titled “Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Readiness of V2V Technology for Application,” covering many aspects of V2X technology including readiness, cost and accident-reduction assessments. The report also summarizes the work that still needs to be done. Both the ANPRM and the research report can be accessed here. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and NHTSA are expected to announce similar plans covering heavy vehicles later this year.

In the near future, the FCC is expected to decide whether to share the V2X 5.9 GHz spectrum with unlicensed Wi-Fi® devices. There is concern that interference from these devices could result in blocked or delayed V2X message transmissions that might negatively impact preventable accidents. As we move toward rulemaking and eventual deployment, it is imperative that the V2X 5.9 GHz spectrum remain dedicated to transportation safety uses. 

On Sept. 7, the 21st ITS World Congress will descend on Detroit. In addition to the panel discussions and booth displays, technology demonstrations will be offered on some city streets and nearby Belle Isle. This follows last year’s excellent World Congress in Tokyo, which had a strong emphasis on vehicle-to-vehicle communication and automated/autonomous driving.  

Both of those themes will continue and V2X communications will again be prominently featured among many intelligent transportation technologies, ranging from toll systems and roadway monitoring to advanced intersection sensors and controls.  

Visteon is presenting our V2X system as part of a ride-and-drive Technology Showcase on Belle Isle. The demonstration highlights three applications that provide warnings to drivers: Obstructed Stopped Vehicle Ahead, Emergency Braking Ahead and Slippery Road Conditions Ahead. All three will present information to the driver using an integrated cockpit approach. Visteon also will have an exhibit in booth 801 at Cobo Center, displaying a range of advanced technologies including connected vehicle and infotainment demonstrations.

If you are attending the ITS World Congress, I invite you to visit our booth and our ride-and-drive to experience how V2X and connectivity can improve the safety and convenience of future vehicles. 

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.

June 17, 2014

Watching Out for You

By Paul Morris

Cameras are being used in more vehicles every day, and while most current applications look "outward" (like rear-view camera or lane-departure-warning) newer implementations will face "inward" – capturing views of the driver, passengers and cargo. Visteon has been developing driver monitoring applications and recently introduced the "HMEye" demonstration concept.  The name HMEye is a play on the term Human Machine Interaction (HMI) combined with Eye-Tracking.  The concept uses eye-tracking cameras and software that allow the driver to interact with some vehicle controls.

Some in-vehicle camera products available today provide features like drowsy and distracted driver monitoring.  These cameras observe the driver’s eyelid opening, blink rate or head position.  Most of these vehicles use a single camera and some type of infra-red (IR) illumination to work during the day or at night.  For example, Lexus offers a driver monitoring system as part of its Pre-Collision Safety Package and other companies offer aftermarket solutions for large truck fleets.

Near Future
For a system to monitor the driver, it needs to be positioned in front of the driver’s face, which is why wearable trackers can be advantageous (see image below of a wearable tracker).  However, drivers usually won’t be wearing a tracker, so a camera with IR flash system needs to be mounted in the direction the driver intends to use it. Typically, it will be affixed in the forward-looking direction, but could also be positioned to the side, depending on the range of eye/head movement the system is designed to track. Low-cost integrated trackers will be limited in vehicles, because they usually are only configured for a single display on a desktop. The main challenge for the vehicle interior designer will be to package the cameras and flash units in a way that is optically functional, but also aesthetically pleasing.

Once enough camera and flash coverage is provided, a higher-accuracy gaze-tracking function can be added to enable features like gaze-controlled HMI. This feature is demonstrated on Visteon’s HMEye demonstration property. These features would be in addition to the base drowsy and distracted driver features mentioned above.

Further Out
There are many interesting scenarios when capabilities like computer vision with artificial intelligence (AI) are added. Think about the vehicle as an “attentive mobility assistant” that always focuses on its customers: the driver, passengers and cargo in the vehicle. In the past, the vehicle only responded to the sense of touch (a button press, etc.).  A few years ago it evolved into hearing (via microphones) and can now understand vocal commands. Vehicles are integrating sight (via cameras), which initially will be poor, but will improve over time as they are developed to recognize new objects and behaviors. A vehicle will see externally (e.g. pedestrian detection) and internally (e.g. driver monitoring) and will begin to learn patterns from good drivers and share them with drivers who need more help. The system will aid the transition between driver-control and autonomous-control and have context and situational awareness that allows it to adapt its behaviors appropriately. Many new opportunities will emerge as vision technologies continue to develop.

Paul Morris is an innovation project manager in Visteon Electronics. During his 20-plus years in the aerospace and automotive industries, he has applied his electronics, software and systems engineering experience to a variety of projects, from GPS satellites to air pressure sensors. His recent work has ‘focused’ on camera and vision systems for automotive applications.

May 20, 2014

The Connected Vehicle in the Internet of Things

By Rob Cadena

It has been predicted that by 2020, there will be 75 billion connected devices – about 10 devices for every person on earth. This eye-opening statistic prompted me to understand how many devices I manage already. To my surprise, I already own or manage 21 fully connected devices and 12 partially connected devices, as shown in the diagram below. Not surprisingly, I am astounded by the amount of time and effort it takes to keep all of these devices up to date and communicating properly. Today’s reality imposes a huge cognitive load on consumers, who just want their devices to work and to communicate with each other through the cloud.

Internet of Rob’s Things

Vehicles Need to be Connected

The amount of time that people spend in their vehicles is too significant for them to be disconnected while driving. How many times have you been stuck in traffic wondering if there was a faster way to get to your destination?  Wouldn’t you like to access your music, news and social connections the same way as on your smartphone? Wouldn’t you want your car to update itself easily and automatically without visiting a dealership?

Because the population of connected vehicles is too small, app designers haven’t yet focused on automotive applications --- but once the vehicle becomes connected, the industry will start to see some of the coolest vehicle apps.

Vehicle Interconnection with Mobile Devices is Key

Not only do vehicles need to be connected, but they need to interact with the other devices you already own. When the vehicle cloud is connected to your device cloud and your home cloud, the possibilities are staggering. When I reviewed my personal Internet of Things, shown in the diagram, I noticed the best applications work across the PC, phone and tablet platforms – allowing me to continue using an app or service on one device exactly where I left off earlier on a different device. I am able to configure preferences and settings easily on a PC and apply them to the service running on any device. However, my television Blu-Ray players, satellite and audio/video receivers interact only to their manufacturer’s cloud using a clumsy built-in user interface. To improve this experience for the vehicle owner, carmakers will allow you to configure your vehicle’s preferences using a mobile device app or website. Vehicles must be able to interact with today’s consumer apps and those that will be released over the next 10 years.

To discuss the “Internet of vehicle things” with me further, catch me at the GENIVI All Members’ meeting May 20-23 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where I will showcase our OpenAir infotainment systems, or at Telematics Update Detroit on June 4-5, where I will participate on a panel discussing vehicle Internet of Things opportunities.

Rob Cadena is infotainment manager and a technical fellow at Visteon, responsible for leading infotainment development. Rob has been involved in the design and development of automotive audio and infotainment systems for 14 years. He received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, with a concentration in digital signal processing. Rob is an avid triathlete, musician and Detroit Lions fan.

May 13, 2014

Virtual Controls are on the Horizon

By Shadi Mere

Consumer research is a crucial part of our innovation process at Visteon. Among many other benefits, it gauges consumer acceptance and perceptions of the new technologies and experiences that we are creating. This is important because, as new technologies are investigated and developed, it can be easy to lose sight of the consumer problems that we are trying to help vehicle manufacturers solve. As the old idiom goes, it’s easy to “lose sight of the forest for the trees.” Consumer research provides a good way to step back and objectively evaluate our concepts. We learn which problems are being effectively solved, and are alerted to opportunities for improvement.

During one of our consumer clinics in Chicago last year, I had a very interesting encounter with a research participant – a pleasant elderly gentleman. Upon introduction to our Horizon cockpit concept, and before he could even start the testing, he paused and asked, “Why are you guys doing this? Leave my radio alone and let me keep my knobs and buttons.” After a quick exchange, he grudgingly went through the testing procedure for our concept. Then an interesting thing happened. After interacting with the concept, he completely changed his perception ...  and ours! I will circle back and explain how.

The Horizon concept shown above has an open, spacious and minimalistic cockpit design. There are no visible buttons or controls.  The concept lets consumers experience the transition from physical controls (knobs, buttons, dials, etc.) to communication tools that people naturally use – such as voice and hand gestures – and both visual and sensory feedback. 

When a new technology is introduced, companies are always faced with questions. “Is this technology for technology’s sake or does it add real value?” The learning curve of a new technology is a big part of the answer. In general, the higher the learning curve, the worse the perception and the lower the adoption rate.  Furthermore, if users learn a new technology and still can’t perceive its benefits, the technology is likely unnecessary. Another important question is whether or not the experience resolves an issue. As we implemented gesture-based controls in the context of a vehicle cockpit, we took great care to ensure that we were solving problems for consumers – and not creating new ones.

Let’s go back to the elderly gentleman from our consumer research clinic. The concept that this gentleman tested enables users to interact with their vehicles through a combination of voice and gesture recognition. One feature allows users to simply rotate their hand in space to turn a virtual knob. Furthermore, users can change the function of the knob with their voice. For example, if the user says “knob volume,” his or her hand now controls a virtual volume knob. This virtual knob can be re-purposed for a number of features, including adjusting temperature, changing radio stations, selecting songs from a playlist, etc.  The movement required is minimal and effortless, and the consumer does not have to perform the gesture in a precise location. Additional features identify what is happening with the system; an animated knob appears on the display that corresponds to the function being controlled, and audio feedback is given to the user to indicate action is being taken.

As the elderly gentleman used the system, he called out "knob-volume," and he rotated the knob in space. He heard the lowering of the music volume as he moved the knob. At that point, he seemed delighted. He thought for a moment, and said, “I like this a lot, since I have problems reaching and gripping the knobs in my car due to my arthritis. A lot of times, I’m not sure where functions are buried in menus.  With this, I can call out any function, control it with my hands, and I don’t even have to look at the screen.” His experience and response altered our perception of the appropriate target consumer for this technology. Generally, we assume that users from younger demographic age groups will embrace new technologies more readily than those in older demographic groups. However, this encounter inspired us to look at Horizon a bit differently. As we examined the data after the clinic, we realized that the Horizon concept resonated across all age groups and demographics. The reasons for consumers’ interest varied, but we learned that Horizon offers exciting benefits for consumers of all ages.

As we probed deeper into consumers’ comments and reactions to features in the Horizon concept, we gained a number of insights. What became apparent is that consumers were interested in technology that helped them communicate with the vehicle in a way that was natural for them. For gesture-based technologies, this meant that people wanted to use gestures that were similar to motions they often made with their hands – the simple rotation of a virtual knob, or a natural movement of reaching toward a control to activate it. This insight was similar to what we discovered early on when we researched voice recognition – people are hesitant to learn a new “language” to communicate with their vehicle.

When automotive manufacturers add technology to vehicles, they have the best of intentions. Too often, though, these technologies can create problems of their own. The technology is too complex for consumers to comprehend, the implementation is too complicated, or the use cases simply aren’t fleshed out well enough – all of which can lead to technology failures.

We need to continue to dig deeper and push our technology further to uncover the right applications, the right context, and the right implementations to deliver the ideal consumer experience. When it comes to innovation in the automotive electronics industry, sometimes we have to plant a few more trees before the forest appears.

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 18-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 3, 2014

Let’s talk user interface … “Deconstructed”

By John Kosinski II

In-vehicle user interface and HMI (Human Machine Interaction) designs have become a white-hot topic for users and designers alike. The deconstructed interface can be broken down into three elements that work together seamlessly:
  • Style
  • Interaction
  • Core Logic Structure

Once the impact of each section on design is clearly understood, the designer can target what works and what doesn't.

The style or graphic user interface (GUI) is responsible for the overall design theme including graphics, fonts, colors, etc. This is the driver’s initial interaction with the vehicle controls and can lead to a positive or negative first impression. The user immediately tries to understand what is being presented and relates that with past experiences – leading to their next input.

The core logic structure or architecture is also involved in this stage by providing screen layouts to the GUI designer.

Analyzing the driver’s reaction to the screens can provide insight about their learning curve as it relates to the vehicle controls. If the user does not encounter issues, then the design intent was properly executed. If the user does not like the GUI or architecture, it can be defined two ways:

1. They do not like the graphics, font readability, or have had little or no prior experience with the controls. This is the most common issue as research has shown that users prefer to use controls with which they are familiar.
2. The design is not intuitive. This leads to strong negative feedback because users need to learn a new system.

The user’s immediate response to the style would be: “it’s too busy”… “the colors are cartoon like”… or “it’s distracting.”

Interaction or User Experience (UX) with the vehicle controls is the second level of learning. UX is tied to the visual connections and the subsequent user action. For many years vehicle interfaces were separate direct-entry controls. Today, vehicle controls have merged into a common interface due to increased connectivity.

Touch screens provide new interactions that may be unfamiliar to the user, but allow interface methods that help them reach their desired result. Increasingly, content is being designed with touch screens in mind.

Rotary control interfaces display functions in a list format – similar to the traditional direct entry method. A rotary interface usually requires more steps to complete a task due to its four-way control: up, down, enter, back. Actions are linear and unlike a touch screen, cannot be skipped using hidden functionality. This approach takes a little more time to execute than a touch screen, but is preferred by some users.

After the user initially interacts with the vehicle controls, their reaction is generally one of the following: “that was neat”… “why did they to it that way?”... or “my phone does it another way.”

Core Logic Structure
The final portion is the core logic structure or architecture of the interface. The architecture manages the overarching structure and flow. This may take the driver weeks to learn, so consistency is critical when developing the interface.

If the user initially enjoyed the interface, over time it may become a repetitive chore. We avoid this by minimizing the number of steps and time it takes to complete any given task.

This is also where an in interface can break down because features could have been added after the initial design stage. Therefore, it is imperative to create a flexible interface from the bottom up using key elements, layouts and interactions. This is essential to retaining longevity in interface development.

At Visteon we’re always watching the latest technology trends and thinking about how to safely integrate them into the vehicle. As this in-vehicle experience evolves, what trends would you like to see?

John Kosinski II is a technical fellow at Visteon responsible for user interface architecture development. During his 22-year career in automotive electronics, he has developed more than 30 unique interface designs from innovation to production programs integrating new technology and applying advanced concepts. He has also worked in audio applications and product requirements roles. In recent years, John has been teaching SAE seminars on in-vehicle interface design (SAE #C1431) to help develop new talent for the automotive industry.

March 11, 2014

Taking Cues from Consumer Electronics…

By Upton Bowden

A new year brings excitement to many industries and this is especially true for the automotive sector. Interestingly enough, many key players in the auto industry began the year by participating in the world’s largest consumer electronics Show: CES in Las Vegas. This event showcases the newest gadgets that will appear in stores over the ensuing 12 months. Huge thin-panel televisions, audio equipment and gaming always have a strong presence. 

This year, wearable electronics was the single largest new product category. Known as “wearables,” the range of devices spanned from economical to luxury and support a number of features including connectivity, fitness, health and convenience. 

2014 marked a banner year for automotive participation at CES. In addition to an automotive keynote speaker, nine automotive manufacturers and 15 Tier 1 suppliers exhibited, with countless more sending delegates. Why? The automotive trade looks to the consumer electronics industry as a source of innovation. Automotive suppliers like Visteon work hard to ensure that the vehicle you purchase now or in three years will be compatible with the latest technology trends. Soon you will see vehicles that can be personalized like your phone home screen and seamlessly connect to your wearable devices – all while streaming Cloud content.

At Visteon, the innovation team returns from CES each year and immediately begins brainstorming inventions for next year. This year, Visteon showcased automotive innovations leveraging advanced displays, eye tracking, data analytics, gesture tracking, cloud connectivity, wireless charging and a number of other technologies first shown at CES and then widely adopted in mobile electronics.

To show how far the industry has progressed, in the year 2000 only premium vehicles connected to mobile phones using a Bluetooth® technology link. Today, aux, Bluetooth and USB are available on nearly 100 percent of new vehicles. In one of our recent research studies, we learned that four out of five consumers prefer to access Cloud-based content that streams from personal media libraries or third-party content providers. This is important to factor into new technologies, as a typical vehicle in 2014 contains more than three connected devices at a given time. 

Visteon is striving to meet the challenge presented by the connectivity demands of today’s drivers – providing them with access to the world of connected data and devices while enabling a non-distracting driving experience. Visteon research shows that 85 percent of drivers prefer an automotive user interface that is familiar to them. Familiarity does come with usage; however, it can be accelerated if modeled after an interface that one is already familiar with – like their mobile phone. 

What interface controls would you like to see in your next vehicle?

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 23-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product design, program management, marketing and technical sales at Visteon and Ford Motor Company.

February 20, 2014

A New Era Begins for Enhanced Vehicle Safety

By Brian Daugherty

The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s recent and long-awaited announcement that it is moving forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) for light vehicles is a watershed event for automobile safety. 

Previous U.S. safety-related vehicle regulations have focused on self-contained, single vehicle systems such as seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. V2V technology expands beyond the individual vehicle to collect and share data with surrounding vehicles – thereby dramatically increasing the information available to each driver. The path outlined by NHTSA focuses on deploying 5.9 GHz transponders on all new passenger vehicles so they can communicate basic safety data with each other, including position and intended path. These systems will enable drivers to receive warnings of potential collisions, thus potentially avoiding many accidents. Other warnings include dangerous or slippery road conditions, curve speed warnings and traffic congestion information. One of the biggest impediments to fielding a successful collaborative, radio-based vehicle safety system is getting a significant number of systems on the road.  NHTSA’s announcement assures a path to that critical mass and gives the final deployment push to a development effort that has spanned several decades. 

Visteon has been involved in V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) efforts (collectively known as V2X) for many years and we are excited about working toward a more definitive deployment goal – albeit one with yet-to-be-defined timing. Automotive grade chipsets are now available from a number of suppliers and we have production path hardware.

The Ann Arbor Safety Pilot Deployment
NHTSA also took actions to indefinitely continue and expand the Ann Arbor Safety Pilot Deployment – the world’s largest deployment of V2X technology. This deployment is managed by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and involves nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and bicycles. Plans are being developed to expand the Ann Arbor effort in stages to eventually include more than 25,000 vehicles. This will enable final verification and validation of the technology in a real-world environment prior to a national deployment. Visteon is actively involved in the safety pilot and will be assisting with the expanded fleet.

The FCC and 5.9 GHz Spectrum Issues
As NHTSA moves toward rulemaking and deployment, hopefully the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not open up the V2X-dedicated 5.9 GHz spectrum to other uses.  Keeping this safety-related communication band free of interference will be even more important in avoiding preventable accidents in the future, especially as more V2X-equipped vehicles are produced. 

On a related note, I will be moderating a panel discussion on “How Smart Devices Can Add Day One Value” at AutoBeat Daily’s Beyond the Connected Vehicle conference on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at NextEnergy in Detroit. V2X will be one of the connected technologies in the program.

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.