Cloud-based technology capable to transform car interiors?

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 25, 2011

Automakers are looking into the possible features that may arise from in-car Internet access. Automakers refer to it as getting access to the "cloud," via a wireless Internet connection in a car. Since the data storage available has been expanding, a car may serve as a customizable personal assistant linked to the home, smartphone and computer. For instance, the modes on the car don’t have to be limited to “sport” or “ comfort” since it could be customized for the preferred ride and handling on a particular route. The car could also take note of the owner’s personal calendar to determine if it should heat or cool the car.

Paul Mascarenas, Ford Motor Co.'s chief technical officer, said that it won’t be practical for the vehicle to have a tremendous amount of memory and so it would be better to depend on the cloud for its storage. Doing this will save space in the instrument cluster and the center stack. Many of General Motors’ luxury cars have about 20 buttons for the radio and entertainment functions.

However, its new Cadillac User Experience (CUE) has a touch screen that only has four buttons. The system could link up to as many as 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards or MP3 players. Meanwhile, Ford demonstrated the possibilities for its cloud-based technology on its Evos plug-in hybrid concept displayed at the Frankfurt auto show last month. Mascarenas said that the Evos features technology that's either already here or is about to get here.

Around five years ago, designers and engineers at Cadillac commenced work in creating a new user experience for its vehicles. Going forward, the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) has attained new heights and now offers levels of user customization and function while still embodying the brand’s art-and-science appearance. Jason Diehl, design manager for CUE, remarked that Cadillac considered several factors in designing and developing CUE, including seemingly minor elements like icon shape and size as well as fonts, color scheme and layout.

CUE allows users to customize – on varying degrees – the screens employed by the system. In fact, the home screen icons and the app tray of the eight-inch capacitive touch screen located in the center console could be reconfigured and personalized. They could drag preferred home screen apps to the top row of the screen to make them accessible from a different application or page. A favorite bar is located on the bottom row of the screen, accommodating certain presets such as navigation destinations, radio stations and even phone contacts.

Moreover, users are allowed to save multiple rows of favorites on this screen. By dragging up or sliding down the favorite bar, users could reveal or hide three more rows of favorites. Just behind the steering wheel, a cluster of three expandable and customizable zones is divided into left-hand, center and right-hand views of the screen.

Users could employ these zones to browse different pages of information, like speed limit and average fuel consumption, as well as the current media being played and trip timers. Users could scroll through these zones through a five-way controller button located on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. A storage area is concealed behind the screen eight-inch screen on the center console, as marked by a chrome bar. This storage can be deployed just by holding the chrome bar.

Topics: technology

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