How big can displays get? How can families interact as a group while driving in an autonomous vehicle? How personalized can connectivity become? Can a departed loved one become the voice of my digital assistant? These questions are explored in Mitsubishi Electric’s latest user experience concept.
Chinese startup Byton surprised attendees at January’s CES show with a 48-in. (122 cm) interactive screen stretching the width of the instrument panel in its new production-ready M-Byte concept.
At the recent CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Mitsubishi Electric showed off a 48-in. interactive screen running sideways through the center of a fullsize SUV, taking the place of the center console and designed to be accessible to both front- and rear-seat occupants.
User Experience Manager Jacek Spiewla says the center-console touch screen acts like a community iPad where everyone in the car can see information, interact with digital friends or play games together like families used to do sitting around the dining room table. The vintage electronic memory game “Simon” is embedded in the demo.
This feature alone offers credible answers to what are becoming two of the great questions of our time: What will people do in autonomous vehicles? How can technology create real human face-to-face interaction instead of sequestering everyone in personal bubbles?
In addition to family games, the giant display offers other possible group activities, Spiewla says. For instance, the screen can display a giant route map with points of interest and suggestions for side trips during a journey. Using CV2X technology, the system has the capability to connect with a “geo-friend neighborhood” of social media friends who are nearby or traveling the same route.
However, Spiewla cautions the giant screen is not yet production-ready. It currently is part of a demo of the latest features available on the company’s FLEXConnect infotainment platform.
The platform contains expected features such as a vehicle-registration system that can regulate privileges for teenage drivers, and a driver-monitoring system that tracks driver attention and spots possible medical emergencies.
But an especially charming feature is the ability to personalize voice commands and notifications with voices of friends and loved ones. With a 5-minute voice recording, the system can synthesize your own Siri or Alexa within your vehicle. For instance, the voices of your kids, spouse or co-workers can announce and read their own incoming texts.
And in an example of how far the boundaries of UX are expanding, Spiewla says even recorded voices of departed loved ones can be synthesized and used by the system. Sources within the artificial language community say this is an increasingly common request. Apparently some folks never tire of the idea of mom reminding them to put on a sweater when it’s cold.