The Future Automobile Experience: Liberate Us

This summer we were invited to present on user experience at General Motors’ Connected Vehicle Research Symposium. It was very exciting to be thinking, once again, about the current user experience in automobiles, how technology and user behaviors are evolving and how that will impact the designs for future automobiles both inside and out.

The presentation (below) talks about how, in our current experiences, we are really trapped, limited by the current automotive experience. How is it that much of the joy that has always been part of owning and driving a car is lost today? How can we recapture that passion in today’s context?

We may not always be able to avoid traffic, but our cars can provide us better experiences when we are in that traffic. As the workforce is more mobile and less tied to their desks, more people are working from their cars. How can my car support the working or eating use case? How can the future auto bring me closer to the people and connections I need to make?

As we look to the future, how can we take each of these spaces and get back to the moments of joy, freedom and liberation? Instead of focusing on performance and utility, how can our vehicles help us connect with our world, even take us to a state of connected liberation?

Drawing on start-ups, mobile apps, gaming and a number of other spaces, the presentation is meant to help us think towards solutions that offer different hints at what future solutions may hold. Looking at the heads up display of many digital games and we see examples of how, without blocking the important “field of play,” the designs still communicate so much information and context.

Today, people are holding their phones to send texts or talking. In contrast, tomorrow’s texts in the car will be voice based. Both Siri and mobile apps like Voxer show us how this space is evolving. It will get better, and we will be able to design an experience in the car that is both safe and liberating.

There are many challenges, but the signposts to the future are already here, we just need to look across industries and experiences to find the best solutions. The future of the automobile will focus on taking user experiences to the next level, helping us connect with people, information and things. We will get back to a state of liberation, and the auto, as we have thought of it for more than 100 years, will become a very different vehicle.