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Based on the protocol stack that starts with 5G, moves up to AI, and continues to layer integrations and user interfaces and experiences on top of those lower-level technologies, how does this all apply to the current mobile experience? A panel on the future of mobility with representatives from several major companies covered this and more at CES.
In the panel discussion, “Advanced Technologies Enabling the Future Customer Experience,” Deloitte Consulting’s Mic Locker served as the moderator and led the conversation with Francois de Bodinat from ZeroLight, Martin French from Webasto, Clare Jones from what3words, Georges Massing from Mercedes-Benz Cars, and Mike Zink from Warner Bros. What emerged was an interesting dialogue of just how the emergence of 5G, AI, and machine learning are lining up to produce a new wave of user experiences once integrated together.
De Bodibat shared ZeroLight’s work developing an AR/VR environment to allow car buyers to better imagine a car model in their lives by allowing the shopper to explore the car in VR, including letting the shopper tour the car while it seems to sit in the shopper’s own driveway. This application rests firmly at the top of the protocol stack in user experience. And yet, without the capabilities offered by 5G, AI, and big data, this type of application is not feasible.
Massing, who is in charge of R&D for cars at Mercedes-Benz, concerns himself with creating a great experience for the occupants by considering how he can use technology to create the experience, not what experience will fall out of including the tech. He said, “All of these technologies are just buzzwords until they deliver a real experience.”
An example of disruptive approaches can be found in the company what3words. Jones shared that the company’s premise is that we need to rework global addressing to meet the digital age, and what3words has a point. Across the globe, our current addressing systems were created to assist in delivering the mail, and are optimized to that end. What3words has rethought the process, creating a matrix of three-by-three meter squares, each identified by a unique identifier built up from three individual words. For example, a location close to the main entrance of the Las Vegas Convention Center might be “yoga cherry savings.” Since no other 3x3-m square has the same identifier, this relatively easy-to-remember name unambiguously identifies the location. In a global worldview, a method such as this simplifies much of the addressing and location issues.
French from Webasto, a manufacturer of sunroofs, couldn’t help but come across as a bit threatened about how autonomous cars will change his livelihood. His observation was that sunroofs take up a large chunk of real estate on the roof, which is prime space for sensors and arrays on an autonomous vehicle. “How do we integrate light, ventilation, and spaciousness into an autonomous vehicle?” French did not seem to have any solutions, but he was also not discouraged. He left the distinct impression that design opportunities will emerge.
Zink from Warner Bros. observed that riding in autonomous vehicles will give us additional time to be entertained (or otherwise engaged with content), and that display technology will be key. He specifically pointed at flexible displays as an emerging technology that would allow any surface—windows in particular—to serve as displays for content of all sorts. In fact, Zink’s point was borne out on the show floor at CES in the Bosch booth where their demonstration of an autonomous vehicle made use of a vehicle window as a part-time display for riders.
However, not all of the panelists agreed. de Bodinat and Massing had a spirited discussion on how much AI can function on just real-time behavior versus using user data stored in a profile of the person. ZeroLight’s position is that profile data will not be necessary, but Mercedes-Benz’s Massing didn’t see it quite that way. As de Bodinat and Massing debated their relative positions on AR/VR, de Bodinat put forth the proposition that “VR/AR plus voice control means you get your freedom back.”
Though they were likely unaware that CTA’s Koenig had painted a picture of the protocol stack in emerging technologies in his presentation earlier in the morning, this panel reinforced his point; the hardware and communication standards such as 5G and AI chips are the necessary components to enable new and disruptively intuitive applications in mobility. By extension, the number of opportunities to design, manufacture, and deploy new and unusual printed circuits into even more creative applications will only continue to increase.