Engineers Week is here! HARMAN is celebrating engineers and their impact on our world by recognizing some our own talented designers, directors and inventors. First up, HARMAN’s Director of User Experience Design – Connected Car, Jason B. Johnson.
With over 14 years of experience in the development of automotive infotainment platforms and user interface products, Jason’s professional background includes leading cross-functional and international teams across multiple industry segments. Prior to HARMAN, Jason designed and managed the development of several in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity systems for Ford Motor Company and General Motors. In 2015, Jason came on board and created the HARMAN Connected Car User Experience (UX) Design Team, whose primary goal was to deliver digital display interfaces optimized for efficiency and simplicity while driving. By focusing on detailed visual and interaction design requirements, the team established themselves as experts in infotainment and connectivity – and automakers took notice.
For the 2017 Impreza, Subaru tasked HARMAN with developing their infotainment and navigation system, and as a result, Subaru earned a spot on the WardsAuto 10 Best User Experience List for its intuitive controls, connectivity options and excellent driver-assist technology. From in-vehicle infotainment systems, to the digital cockpit and beyond, Jason and his team are designing best-in-class automotive experiences – and are now applying that knowledge to even larger and more ambitious projects for HARMAN.
CES 2018 was the ideal opportunity to showcase some of those more ambitious projects - including the team’s latest advancements and contributions to connected car technology. The lead up to CES is exciting, and at times chaotic, but the team’s dedicated approach allowed them to move quickly and efficiently to bring the process typically used for mobile and web development, into the car arena, and create a spectacular user experience by doing so. The process begins with a vision and journey map, followed by a user-focused and collaborative design process involving multiple prototypes and iterative testing stages, which finally results in initial deployment and subsequent Over-The-Air (OTA) software updates. This was only the second year that Jason and his team designed vehicles for CES – and this time around they gutted the entire dashboard of the car, to replace the traditional ones with our scalable, Digital Cockpit solutions. No small feat, this meant long hours, and in-depth user testing with only two weeks to spare – but judging by the impressed reactions at CES, the process was worth it in the end.
HARMAN’s recent demonstration of Digital Cockpit experiences at CES are evidence of how a user-centered and iterative design process is key to delivering successful results. By ensuring that HARMAN’s prototype vehicles respected the automakers’ history and the heritage of the brands themselves, the team was able to provide a seamless integration of the digital cockpit platforms.
What’s next? In terms of the ultimate goal of complete autonomy, the biggest obstacle remains the lack of trust and satisfaction from the public. According to the 2017 U.S. Tech Experience (TXI) Study from J.D. Power, the average overall owner satisfaction with new-vehicle technology is a mere 75%. In order to reverse this trend, the industry as a whole must work together to develop the best possible connected car platforms. This involves increasing the public’s trust in autonomy. “If we can’t trust our phone to reliably connect to the car, if we can’t trust voice control to function properly or trust navigation systems to get us from Point A to Point B,” asks Jason, “how can we trust an autonomous vehicle?” Jason and his team are facing this challenge head on and working tirelessly to develop superior in-car systems to help achieve a trustworthy and fully autonomous future.
Check back this week for more stories here about the different ways HARMAN’s engineers are shaping the future of the audio, automotive and connected services industries.