Our favorite consumer devices provide rich, immersive experiences, so we want the same things from our cars. And automakers are responding.
Tomorrow’s connected cars will be loaded with even more entertainment and information. In addition to multimedia, they’ll warn us about hazards ahead, suggest destinations based on our interests, and wake us if we start to doze.
Here’s the problem: Every additional piece of information delivered by a car — even if it’s safety-related — increases a driver’s cognitive load. The more our brains become bogged down, the more stressed we become, reducing our ability to react.
So the question is, how can a high-tech car provide a technology-rich experience that still supports driver safety?
To answer this, Panasonic is reimagining the way we interact with our cars. The global tech company takes a human-centered approach that’s rooted in psychology, ethnography, and user-centric design to bridge the gap between consumer electronics and automobiles.
A tech solution for the attention problem
The key is a concept known as “attention management,” which is based on providing the most relevant information to drivers in a way that doesn’t distract them from the actual driving.
Experts across multiple areas of Panasonic Automotive are collaborating on delivering a driver-focused experience that will incorporate information, entertainment, vision, driver assistance, and comfort features in a user-friendly interface designed to help reduce driver distraction. Panasonic calls this holistic approach the eCockpit solution.
One example of how the eCockpit is helping to keep the driver’s eyes on the road is head up display (HUD) technology. In Panasonic’s new HUD optics development lab, researchers are taking an innovative approach to displaying information so that the largest, highest quality and driving relevant images are shown in the most efficient, convenient, and logical locations. Display technology solutions work together to keep the driver focused on the most important task at hand: driving.
Within the eCockpit is Panasonic’s next-generation HUD, which provides information such as road conditions and upcoming hazards. Building on Panasonic’s technical leadership in optical imaging, the HUD system projects a clear, sharp image onto the windshield right above the dashboard. For example, you can check current speed, remaining fuel, and next-turn driving directions without taking your eyes off the road.
The display is also capable of augmented reality. It can overlay a schematic of the road ahead, alert you to a pedestrian on a dark street, or provide a visual countdown to your next turn.
Moving toward the car of the future
This technology solidifies Panasonic’s leadership role in the future of driving, which includes car-sharing modalities and autonomous vehicles. And, there’s plenty more to come. Its Future Car of 2020 concept, demonstrated at CES 2016, includes an eye-tracking system that activates the HUD. The cockpit holds nine displays in all, including HUDs for both driver and passenger, a large center screen viewable by both driver and passenger, plus one dedicated solely to the passenger’s viewing preferences. They can be operated by gesture, allowing drivers to use menus and make adjustments without taking their eyes off the road.
The company plans to leverage its expertise in visual systems and sensors to also develop technologies for autonomous and assisted driving. Its autonomous test course in Yokohama, Japan, opened early this year and helps develop advanced systems such as adaptive headlights that follow the driver’s eye movements.
Panasonic is listening to what consumers want in a next-generation vehicle and, just as important, analyzing how to deliver that in a way that will help reduce road fatalities and crashes due to distracted driving and other human errors. As we move to a safer, more connected world, Panasonic is committed to creating pioneering technological solutions that meet consumer demands and needs.
This post was originally published on Business Insider.