This is the second in a series of articles by Neal Gorevic and Haven Thompson that looks at electric vehicles and how automakers, as well as other players in the space, are planning/will need to plan on leveraging digital marketing and product development to help drive adoption for electric vehicle purchase and to help manage and support EV ownership.
Editor’s note: Headlightblog.com recently caught up with TJ Giuli, pictured at right, not long after his panel presentation at SXSW titled Dude this is my Car. TJ is a research engineer at the Ford Motor Company’s Infotronics Research and Advanced Engineering organization in Dearborn, Mich. His research interests lie in mobile computing and secure, privacy-preserving vehicular software architectures. His recent work involves architecting research software platforms to enable third-party software development on cars. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University. He was interviewed for Headlightblog.com by Kyle Outlaw, a regular contributor and UX lead at Razorfish who is also one of the agency’s subject matter experts on mobile.
Mercedes-Benz mbrace, a new telematics platform that Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) launched recently, is the first such system to have a companion mobile application. The app lets registered mbrace customers lock and unlock vehicle doors as well as locate their vehicle from within the vicinity of one mile. The app also lets owners contact their preferred Mercedes-Benz dealership or locate dealers in the U.S. by proximity. It provides dealer name, address, phone number and even pinpoints their location on a map. The click-to-call functionality allows for easy access to the mbrace Customer Response Center, Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance Center and Mercedes-Benz Financial. Users must be active Mercedes-Benz mbrace subscribers to use the companion mobile application.
At January’s Detroit Auto Show, Chrysler offered a forecast around the automaker’s uconnect telematics system. The prototype: a touch-screen display that gives intuitive access to a fully connected hub, seamlessly merging a driver’s life inside and outside the car.
At the 2009 New York International Auto Show, Ford Motor Company (one of Razorfish’s clients) unveiled the Transit Connect Family One Concept. As with much of Ford’s conceptual thinking lately, connectivity assumes as much importance as cargo space or gas mileage.
Challenges involved in designing multi-modal voice- and touch-interactive user experiences in the car
Guest contributor Karen Kaushansky organized the “My Car is Talking But What’s it Saying?’ panel at this year’s SXSW Interactive. Karen is a User Experience Designer at Tellme, a Microsoft subsidiary that specializes in telephone-based applications. In January the company announced its first automotive engagement; Tellme is providing voice technology for Ford Motor Company’s new Sync Traffic, Directions and Information service.
Restraint prevailed over all else during the media preview days for this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Instead of celebrity performances, animal stunts and the barely relevant blowouts we’ve come to expect from shows past, a mood of high seriousness reigned. As such, the heavy focus on technology tended in one overwhelming direction: weaning us away from the gas pump. Certainly interactive, connective in-car technologies were on display, but they sat in quiet remove from all those adjustments to the drivetrain. Fair enough, of course.
Vehicle maintenance is an obscurity for the majority of car owners. The closest auto owners come to feeling in-control of the up-keep is by heeding the oil-change reminder stickers on their windshields – “Take me in for service on 8/23 OR at 24,000 miles.”
Last fall Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform Architect for Plaxo, posted a proposed Bill of Rights for users of the social web that he had co-authored along with Marc Canter, CEO of Broadband Mechanics. Tech heavyweights Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble soon signed on as well. The main tenets of the bill are ownership of our personal information, control of how this personal information is used and the freedom to grant persistent access to this info.
Open is the new closed. Oversharing. TMI. We’ve learned the effects of simple and instantaneous text, image and video publishing. Automotive telematics are poised to create a similar trend for location, yet with these new telematics services comes both a wonderful opportunity and a dangerous scenario for privacy and customer choice.
There have been video games about cars for nearly as long as there has been video games. Even so, for the past 10 years Gran Turismo has stood out among the many racing titles as the game about cars and driving. Gran Turismo was created by Kazunori Yamauchi and developed by Polyphony Digital studios for Sony’s PlayStation gaming console. Over the past 10 years and five versions of the game, Gran Turismo has continued to be polished and refined to create the de facto console-based driving simulator. Polyphony Digital has always worked closely with automakers to get the details of featured cars as close to the real thing as they can be in order to provide a true driving experience.