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.

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