Toyota’s take on multi-platform UX

Jason DaPonte, team leader for Pathway #2 at MEX on 4th/5th May 2011, shared this video from Engadget. It shows Toyota’s Entune platform in the new Prius V.

Entune links the car dashboard display with a phone over Bluetooth, using the mobile device’s data connection and application technology to deliver services like Bing and Pandora.

The automotive environment provides numerous opportunities for multi-platform experiences which leverage a combined portfolio of input and output touchpoints across the dashboard, mobile devices and even street architecture.

However, it is also a particularly challenging area for service designers. The automotive industry works on very different product lifecycles to the consumer electronics business. During a conversation an automotive designer attending a previous MEX event, they described how they planned for the expected lifetime of a car:

  1. 6 years of product development
  2. 10 years of active sales
  3. 15 years of product ownership

For a car sold in the final year of product availability, the embedded technology could have a potential lifespan of 31 years! As such, it is extremely difficult to plan for integration with mobile device technologies which do not even exist yet. This is particularly true when it comes to direct links between hardware controls in the car and on the phone.

There is evidence of this in the Engadget article. The system can display a different interface depending on whether the vehicle is in motion, preventing the on-screen keyboard from distracting drivers. However, the hardware ‘voice’ button on the steering wheel can only be used for voice calls, not to link with the system’s voice recognition engine. Instead, this must be accessed through a small software icon on the screen.

Simon East, CEO of DriveGain, will pick up on some of these issues in his session at MEX on 4th/5th May 2011. Simon is actually addressing Pathway #7 on sustainable experiences, but his DriveGain application is designed for in-car usage.

The Pathway #2 team, led by Jason DaPonte, will also explore the automotive environment as part of a design challenge linked to multi-platform entertainment experiences.

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