Safety overall has been a huge trend in the past years, and new cars have indeed become extremely safe for the driver and all of the passengers. With the addition of BLIS, emergency braking systems and other driver assists, many lives have been saved. The next big risk factor manufacturers seem to focus on, are alternative ways to control everything inside the car without taking your attention off the road. Accidents happen in a matter of a second and therefore, the two seconds that you look at your center console to adjust the temperature might be crucial when it comes to avoiding an accident.
Solutions like voice- and gesture control are amazing ways of tackling this matter. However, the technology and AI is not quite developed enough to be a functional solution yet. Same goes for gesture controls. The technology is still somewhat unreliable and hard to use. A good example of this is the gesture controls on the new BMWs. In fact, there are six-minute tutorials on YouTube on how to use these complicated systems. Using a traditional switch to do the job would be a little simpler and faster, wouldn’t it?
Siili Auto teamed up with Tampere University, TactoTek, Rightware and Canatu to create the “steering wheel of the future”. The mission was to create a steering wheel concept with smartphone-like UI, that enable the driver to completely control of the car without taking your eyes off the road. Reducing buttons not only makes the car more functional, but also fits well with the minimalistic and futuristic designs that are clearly a trend with new car models. At first glance, it looks like something you’d find in a futuristic race car. But when taking a closer look, it’s actually a lot more than that.
The Origo Steering Wheel features two touch pads, one for each thumb, a couple of haptic buttons and a large screen behind the steering wheel. The UI on the screen looks amazing and futuristic but the main thing is that everything can be controlled by these touch pads with swipes, scrolls and taps. The touch pads allow control that’s usually available only from the center console. Moreover, the highly advanced UI and illuminations make the steering wheel look, function and feel amazing. You can read more about it here.
What’s better than minimizing the risk of losing concentration while driving? Not having to take the risk in the first place. Autonomous vehicles are improving and we are close to achieving level 4 and level 5 autonomy when it comes to autopilots in cars. I believe that when we are able to reach a level where the driver no longer needs to be involved with the driving in any way, it will shape the way cars are designed in a fundamental level. Autonomous cars will certainly lead to cars’ design focus shifting from the driver to the passenger. Features focused on passenger comfort will rise in priority right behind the safety features, provided that the driver is no longer needed at the driver’s seat. Consequently, backseats will get bigger and more luxurious compared to the front seats. Moreover, the features that are now considered luxurious will get more common since there’s more demand for comfort because the driver doesn’t have to drive anymore. I don’t know about you, but I sure would enjoy having a massage while the autopilot drives me wherever I need to go.
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