The interior of your next vehicle will be driven by technology and entertainment systems, and in the next few years, could include “augmented reality” technology that spreads across your windshield, showing you roadway lines and exits, automakers and suppliers say.
Designers and automakers increasingly are focusing on interior comfort, technology and how easily the user can experience all that, panelists told automakers, suppliers and students gathered Thursday at Wards Auto Interiors Conference.
“Now the focus is on the in-car technology,” Robert Gelardi, a design manager for Ford Motor Co., said. “I think that will be the driving factor.”
Drivers in the future could see increasing options that would allow them to change their displays, including having a separate passenger display, and changes could eliminate air vents on the dash, Gelardi said.
Automakers also are using hand gesture recognition near the center, which could help people with dexterity problems, said Susan Drescher, business development manager for Continental Automotive Systems. In-car displays are becoming larger, are more colorful and heads-up displays are becoming more popular, she added.
Balancing entertainment options that drivers want — particularly the increasing connectivity demands from the younger generation — while ensuring drivers aren’t too distracted is a continuing challenge for auto companies.
“They’d rather have their cellphone than their car,” Drescher said of younger generation drivers.
Young drivers want to bring in their personal electronics and plug them in, to use in the car, Drescher said. “In the future, you’re going to have a car that really adapts to you,” she said.
Cadillac drove around with customers in luxury vehicles to watch how they interacted with the car and used technology as part of its design of the Cadillac User Experience, an instrument cluster and infotainment system that is debuting on the Cadillac XTS this month, said Jason Diehl, CUE design manager for General Motors Co.
From that research, it developed personas — such as a professional and a soccer mom — that helped it create four layouts for the CUE instrument cluster, Diehl said.
The industry also is focusing on eco-friendly and innovative materials for interior design, ambient lighting to create moods in vehicles and how to balance the interior gadgetry consumers want in tomorrow’s vehicles, while trying to make vehicles more light-weight and fuel-efficient. Automakers and suppliers are working to reduce weight, such as changing the location of the climate control system. Cutting weight can boost fuel economy.