Introduction of tablets disrupted not only consumer electronics industry. Tablets and mobile phones in general enabled new usage patterns and expectations. Consumers started demanding real-time information and connectivity wherever they go. This demand is causing a massive amount of disruption in the automotive industry. Vehicle’s connectivity, digital products and services have become as important as the engine and brakes. Digitalization is now the biggest strategic issue for auto executives. Using handhelds (e.g. Smartphone, phatblet, or tablet) as a bridge and keeping applications embedded in the tablet while integrating the tablet into a vehicle ecosystem creates many opportunities for V2X developments
02. The Goal
The mobile industry has managed to establish vital ecosystems gathered around each leading mobile OS. No such ecosystem currently exists when it comes to the automotive manufacturer leaders. Tablet-Based IVI System project bridged up between research and development processes in consumer electronics and automotive industries by delivering a platform allowing for maintaining hardware capability to run and use the newest software applications and contents
create an upgradable hardware platform allowing for run and use of the latest apps and technologies
tailor latest apps and contents to fit into automotive visual grades
eliminate the interaction with contents unrelated to the core task of driving
maximize the content assisting driver on the core task of driving
minimize the time driver's eyes spend away from the road
minimize driver's learning curve to complete the task
integrate handhelds and 3-rd party apps
integrate tablet into vehicle dashboard and make it a part of car ecosystem
group and prioritize complex features and apps
split information across three (3) UI layers
utilizing colors and elements dimension
03. My Role
At a very initial stage of the project I acted as a UX Researcher and Product Analyst. I was collecting as-is information and customer insights by observing driver patents, scrapping forums discussion for emerging ideas coming from car enthusiasts, spending time at the car dealership to learn and identify diver expectations towards the in-vehicle infotainment. At this stage I gathered and documented customer pain points, mapped as-is against to-be assumptions, reviewed existing interfaces structure and stepped into prototyping. My early prototypes have been tested on car buyers at the dealership to validate product design assumptions.
As the work progressed further, I was asked to overtake a Project Manager role to coordinate cross-functional teams to shape the project and deliver full function interactive prototype to the C-level management. Validated design decisions were turned into product directions. As a result of the above efforts the full function first version of the product has been delivered to the auto maker C-level management. After a hands-on experience a decision was made to co-showcase the final product at CES 2015 exhibition in Las Vegas
Product background research
Conceptualization and ideation
Scope definition and project planning
Project vision to align with automakers business goals
Execution and validation to monitor the status of project sprints
Deliver product brief and hands-on experience to the automakers to gather users feedback
Establish a partnership with the automaker
04. The Challenge
It is a general principle that the automotive industry pays special attention to safety and security. Many regulations around these key domains make work very tough and set high barriers for those companies who wishes to enter the automotive industry. Tablets and most of the existing mobile applications are not designed for usage in a vehicle. Which is why MirrorLink™ technology and optimized UI (aka. User Interface) tailored for use while driving was selected as a base approach for the Tablet-Based IVI System.
In order to keep the IVI (aka. In-Vehicle Infotainment) system hardware, content and applications up to date, the design of the system was split into three (3) major elements: Headunit, Tablet, and an automotive tailored application.
05. The Structure
Embedded into vehicle dashboard at the factory, base headunit was design to deliver classic audio-based infotainment features (e.g. handsfree, radio, audio streaming, etc.)
Docked into vehicle dashboard 4G-, NFC (aka. Near Field Communication) and wireless charging-enabled tablet auto synchronises the dashboard features and info, merges it up with tablet-based driver-focused contents and apps. Revolutionary detachable, cable-free design allowed for seamless transformation of the base headunit into a a full-functional, content-limitless infotainment system. The system supports in-car wireless charging to make sure the tablet battery is at optimal charge. NFC, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies enable wireless video- and audio- communications between the tablet and the dashboard. The tablet serves as an interactive interface when docked into the vehicle dashboard, allowing users to access personalized content from both the dashboard and the tablet, to use of the latest available content and reuse of both hardware and software. This structure ensures the tablet and software compatibility with the headunit for consistent 5-plus years, which goes in pace with both consumer electronics and automotive research and development process.
To assist on transaction and to solve the problem of traditional automotive designs, minimalist, distinctive and clear visual structure a along with content hierarchy was applied to reflect existing consumer electronics and driver behaviours. Horizontal content alignment was applied to simulate familiar mobile interfaces. Most critical information was pulled upfront: Traffic alerts, audio library, most recent contacts, and voice assistant. 3-rd party apps support was brought on top of existing dashboard functionality. In order to fit the 3-rd party apps into the vehicle displays, the content was scaled and graded to the vehicle GUI (aka. Graphic User Interface) standards
06. The Impact
A tablet was seamlessly integrated into vehicle dashboard bringing the latest and reusable contents to the vehicle-tablet owner. The lifecycle of the vehicle dashboard was extended, as the system allowed for easy hardware upgrades within a scope of a single tablet selection and content personalisation. Tablet can be simply undocked from the dashboard and used as regular tablet at work, school, office, etc.
In order to minimize interaction with handhelds while driving, the system architecture was primary focused on accommodating core-task focussed dashboard contents, and merging those contents up with essential headunit features and 3-rd party automotive-tailored apps (e.g. Google Maps, Spotify, TineIn, etc.) to keep the person behind the wheel connected to the world and digital media.
Selected touch-based interfaces (GUI) commands were replaced with voice interfaces (VUI) to allow for prompt tasks accomplishments. The top time consuming tasks, such as setting up the navigation (45 seconds), select the radio station (42 seconds) or find a record (37 seconds) where accomplished by volunteers who tested the system in 15 seconds per task
already existing applications and software packages could be leveraged and re-used within the designed system
two use cases where developed for one tablet: Home- or office-based use. First and only IVI system with tablet fully integrated into dashboard system
the lifecycle of the dashboard system was extended to 10+ years allowing the system upgrades within a single tablet