Did you know the average person spends around 4 years of their lifetime driving a car? Or that 4 months of those years are spent stuck in traffic? Maybe we can change the way that time is spent with the oncoming of driverless cars.
It may be awhile before the steering wheel is taken out of the car, but it’s never too early to imagine what that could be like.
Today’s science fiction often leads to tomorrow’s technology.
It’s the year 2035.
You’re in the driver’s seat of your self-driving car. There is no steering wheel; you only have the car’s dashboard in front of you. It’s 7:00 AM, and you’re heading to work. You tap the dashboard to wake it up, and you’re presented with a home page similar to your laptop’s, only that this home page is as large and long as the dashboard itself. You enter your destination with a few taps on the screen, and the car instantly goes on its way. The office is an hour away, but it’s not a big deal. You can do some work in the car.
Now the screen transitions. On the left side, you see the weather report for the day. To the right, you see today’s news headlines. You open up a browser with a tap of your finger, and you check your email for new messages. When you need to reply to an email, a digital keyboard appears towards the bottom of the dashboard.
After replying to a few emails, you take some time to relax. You go to UsTube (the successor to YouTube obviously), watch a 2 minute video of a dog befriending a baby, then decide to call your mom and wish her a happy birthday. A camera pops up from the far side of the dashboard. With face-recognition and camera stabilizing software, your mom is able to see you perfectly fine through the bumps in the road and shaking of the car. She even tells you to eat more.
Car companies need to know who they’re designing for and what activities their users will be engaging in once driving is off their mind.
Take the commuter going to work like the example above. If there was a touch screen dashboard in place of a steering wheel in front of them, what would they want in order to get their work done? They may want to write documents or see today’s weather. They may keep an eye on their stocks, the news, or their emails. Because video conferencing is not uncommon these days, they may want a camera integrated with the car so they can easily video call a client or coworker.
But what about a different type of car owner, such as a frequent leisure traveler? This person may spend long hours in the car, traveling from state to state exploring the country. They may do it with friends or family. Perhaps a comfortable interior is needed to make long trips in a small space more bearable. They may want quick and easy access to entertainment apps to stay busy, or even chairs that can spin around so that everyone can face each other to talk. When exploring a city, maybe they want to talk to an AI that suggests great touristy spots or popular restaurants.
With new technology comes new challenges for designers and engineers. When driving no longer becomes necessary, how can we create an experience well worth replacing the 4 years we spend in a car? We don’t need to reinvent the wheel… we just need to think of the possibilities without it.