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HARMAN Executives Predict Key Automotive Technology Trends in 2019

2018 was another pivotal year for the future of mobility, as emerging technologies, shifting consumer habits and hyper connectivity continued to transform the automotive industry at a faster rate than ever before. At HARMAN, we’re razor-focused on how the in-car experience will evolve in 2019 and with CES around the corner, this question is on the minds of many. Here’s HARMAN’s take on the trends we see being played out at CES – particularly, how AI, smart audio, and voice control systems will shape the in-car user experience in 2019 and beyond.

AI-driven vehicles will see the future and make it safer

With the data and intelligence gained through AI, we’ll see dramatic changes in driver safety features. This includes improvement of perception systems for object recognition, learning and predicting human behaviors, and understanding of driver alertness, says Sanjay Dhawan, President, Connected Services and HARMAN CTO. In addition, connected fleets of automobiles will provide data and services about traffic flows, parking availability, and more. The means we’ll be able to experience not only improved services, but also increased efficiency on the road. 

Smart audio to optimize the voice-enabled car

According to Chris Ludwig, Vice President, EPIC Experience Team, the prevalence and sophistication of in-car voice control systems has grown significantly in recent years. Although AI and autonomous features are advancing now more than ever, the safety and productivity benefits of voice technology are still null if commands can’t be heard or understood on either end. Moving forward, there will be a greater focus on seamlessly optimizing the sonic environment of the vehicle cabin to enable better in-car communication. This will be a major component to smart audio systems and how they affect the overall passenger experience.

Increasing autonomy requires a rethink of the user experience

OEMs and Tier Ones have to go back to the drawing board to reconsider how humans understand and interact with autonomous technology. This requires them to essentially redevelop the entire car dashboard. It’ll take more than adding a simple icon to ensure that drivers are 100 percent aware of what's happening, the system's limitations, and what will need to happen should they be called upon to take the wheel. Jason Johnson, Director, User Experience Design, notes that there are several questions that will need to be addressed in terms of redesigning vehicle dashboards. Should it involve haptic feedback? Audio cues? Alerts on a heads-up display? This year, the user experience of the autonomous and semi-autonomous car will begin to take shape. 

Cars of today and tomorrow need a sixth—or even seventh—sense

Tim VanGoethem, Vice President, Advanced Mobility Solutions, HARMAN X, expects the complicated handover between vehicle and human to require a full suite of sensor technologies to create a comprehensive view of surroundings, especially with the development of Level 2 and 3 autonomous cars. We’ll see a rise in the use of multiple varieties of sensors simultaneously, though designers will be challenged to incorporate them in an aesthetically pleasing, yet secure and efficient way. Newer capabilities—including augmented reality and syncing across cloud platforms—will also become increasingly utilized in order to create a cohesive and safe driving experience. 

Trends on display at CES 2019

We’re excited to demonstrate how HARMAN is addressing these key trends and our perspective on the market opportunity through the innovations we will be announcing at CES on January 7th. We’re expanding beyond the traditional measures of MPGs or RPMs to deliver what consumers today demand -- Experiences Per Mile, or EPMs as we like to call it. Connected, personalized and adaptable experiences driven by powerful technology, not horsepower, is the main differentiator for vehicles today, and we invite you to join us at the showcase at CES to see these technologies first hand!

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