The automotive industry has always been receptive to emerging technologies. Over the last several decades, technology has completely changed the way vehicles are manufactured, driven, and fueled. But the biggest change is yet to come.
Experts predict that technology will transform the way that humans interact with cars in the near future. What will this change look like? How will it affect your driving experience? Here’s what you need to know:
How Car-Driver Interactions Will Change in the Future
In the past, most vehicles were designed were knobs or switches that you could use to adjust the volume, change the radio station, or crank up the air conditioner. Using these knobs and switches was the only way for you to interact with your vehicle or issue commands.
Some vehicles are still designed with knobs and switches, but they are slowly being replaced with touchscreens in newer models. These touchscreens are typically part of the vehicle’s center console. When the vehicle is turned on, the touchscreen presents a series of different menu options and pages to choose from. Thanks to these touchscreens, you simply need to tap on the screen to interact with your vehicle and adjust its settings.
But experts believe that these touch screens won’t be around for much longer. Experts predict that you will soon be able to interact with your vehicle using your voice, gestures, or biometric identifiers. This means instead of tapping on a screen to control your radio, phone, navigation system, and other parts of the vehicle, you will use your voice, gestures, or biometric identifiers to tell your car what to do.
If experts are correct, this will completely change the way vehicles are designed and driven.
How Will These Changes Enhance the Driving Experience?
The shift to interacting with your vehicle using your voice, gestures, or biometric identifiers could reshape the driving experience for automotive consumers.
For example, imagine that you want to pull up directions to your friend’s house on your vehicle’s navigation system. If your car is designed with a touchscreen, you may need to manually enter the address into the vehicle’s navigation system to see directions. But in the future, you may simply need to say the address aloud and ask your vehicle to look up driving directions for you.
You wouldn’t have to speak a word if your vehicle was supported with gesture recognition technology instead. In this case, you would need to use hand signals to tell your vehicle what task you would like it to perform. For instance, waving your hand back and forth could tell your vehicle to turn on the windshield wipers.
Experts believe that biometric identifiers would be used to create a more personalized driving experience. For instance, in the future, your vehicle may use facial recognition technology to identify a driver. If you are identified as the driver, your vehicle might automatically adjust the seat, rear view mirror, and other settings based on your personal preferences. You would never need to manually make these adjustments again. The vehicle would immediately know to adjust everything as soon as your face was identified.
Some experts believe that this automotive technology will go even further than that. In fact, many experts think that vehicles will be designed with biometric scanners that can monitor eye movement to detect signs of sleepiness. If the technology detects sleepiness, the vehicle will automatically take action to wake you up. It could play loud music or gently vibrate your seat to get your attention.
Accidentally locking your keys in your car won’t be a problem in the future, either. Future vehicles may allow you to unlock your vehicle simply by pressing your thumbprint on the door handle.
There’s no doubt that these changes could create a safer driving experience. Using voice commands instead of touchscreens could create a more hands-free driving experience, which may make the roads safer for all drivers.
Technology targeting drowsy drivers could also make the roads safer by reducing the number of accidents caused by fatigue.
The use of biometric identifiers may not impact road safety, but it will create a custom driving experience that is more enjoyable and convenient for consumers.
What Challenges Are Associated with These Car-Driver Interaction Changes?
There are many benefits to changing the way in which humans interact with vehicles. But it’s important to note that there are some challenges associated with making these changes to the car-driver interaction.
For instance, it may be hard for the vehicle to determine when you are trying to interact with it and when you are simply talking to someone else in the vehicle or making a random hand gesture. If you are reaching for something in the passenger seat, the vehicle may interpret this as a signal to adjust the radio or turn on your headlights. If you are speaking to another passenger, the vehicle may assume you are trying to issue a voice command, which could lead to confusion.
To prevent this problem, technology must be capable of identifying when you are trying to interact with the vehicle and when you are not.
If you’ve ever struggled to communicate with Siri or Alexa, you know how frustrating it is when a device powered by voice recognition technology misinterprets what you are saying. This is why another challenge is creating voice recognition technology that is capable of detecting and responding to a wide range of voice commands. This means being able to understand many different types of voices.
It might take time for drivers to adapt to this technology, too. For example, you may need to learn several unique hand gestures and what they can be used for if you purchase a vehicle with hand gesture recognition technology. If you don’t try to learn this information, you may not be able to interact with your vehicle at all, which can lead to an uncomfortable and unpleasant driving experience.
These are some of the many challenges that automotive manufacturers will face when trying to incorporate these features into vehicles in the future.
When Will These Changes Occur?
If you’re excited about interacting with your car using your voice, hand gestures, or biometric identifiers, you may not need to wait much longer to utilize this technology. One of the leading automotive manufacturers, Ford, predicts that 90% of all vehicles will be designed with voice recognition technology by the year 2022.
The global automotive biometric market is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Right now, the market is valued at nearly $185 million. But the market is expected to reach $503 million by the year 2025. If these estimates are accurate, this means there will be an influx of new vehicles designed with biometric scanners and similar technologies.
There’s no way to know for certain when these changes will take place. But all signs point to these changes slowly being introduced over the next several years.
How Will Automotive Consumers Respond to These Changes?
Several studies have been conducted to measure automotive consumers’ attitudes towards these expected changes. One study found that only 44% of people between the ages of 15 to 18 prefer voice recognition technology over other modes of interaction.
Another study found that gesture recognition technology was ranked last among all types of advanced automotive interaction features. In this study, 16% of participants tried gesture recognition technology, but quickly gave up on it either because they didn’t like it or it was difficult to use.
However, these opinions may change once these technologies are introduced in vehicles in the future.
It may be too early to predict how consumers will respond, but it is safe to say that the introduction of these technologies will change the way in which humans interact with their vehicles.