Automotive Companies Investing in Wearable Tech Pilot Programs

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Automotive Companies Investing in Wearable Tech Pilot Programs


Automakers are starting to look at the possibilities, and challenges, of wearable technology. This industry is set to explode, and car makers from Ford to Tesla are looking for a piece of the action.

Wearable technology is quietly having an increasing impact on our lives. It's estimated that by 2018 wearable products will be a $19 billion industry. So far the focus seems to be on gaming and healthcare, but automakers have also taken a good look at the possibilities, and challenges, of wearable technology.



In 2015, the German car maker Volkswagen distributed smart glasses to volunteer warehouse employees. These smart glasses allow the workers to view the information they need to do their jobs right in their field of vision. Integrated with other systems, the smart glasses are able to display essential order information such as part numbers and locations. The device, which includes a camera used as bar code scanner, is controlled via touch and spoken commands for hands-free operation. VW will weigh feedback before expanding the program.

As of 2014 Ford was reportedly experimenting with Virtual Reality in its design labs. Engineers used an Oculus Rift to evaluate designs in a completely digital environment. A camera system captured images of new vehicles which could allow a team of remote engineers to examine the new designs from multiple angles. This way, selected teams from across various plants could get together to explore and discuss new design ideas. Since then, they've opened a lab in Dearborn, Michigan, dedicated to the virtual reality experience and its uses.

General Motors purchased a number of Google Glasses to use on production lines at a Detroit assembly plant. Essential responsibilities from quality control and repairs to job training can take advantage of VR informatics with the hope of improving efficiency. Among it's other motivations, GM hopes that implementing VR will attract a younger and more tech-savvy workforce.

It's not a novel concept; a mid-2014 study found that VR tools improved worker productivity by 8%.


microsoft building

The Swedish carmaker Volvo has joined with Microsoft to explore ways of using the HoloLens VR headset to market their automobiles. Virtual reality will allow potential customers to examine virtual models and design innovations. They can also view information on important features and specifications as well as the effect of color and trim changes. It's hoped that this will become the auto showroom of the future which car shoppers can access digitally. Volvo has also talked about using the headsets to obtain customer feedback on models still in the design stage.

Both AUDI and AMARI Supercars have announced plans for similar virtual showrooms.


road safety

Ford is also looking for a way to integrate the increasingly popular smartwatches and other fitness wearables into their cars' electronics to enhance the driving experience. Linking health data such as heart rate to driver assist software could make the car easier to manage in the case of a health emergency. It's also hoped that information on accidents and other traffic problems could be transmitted straight to driver smartwatches. Ford has its own MyFord Mobile smartwatch app capable of receiving voice command. With such advantages the price of a car insurance policy is likely to drop.

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Toyota partnered with Oculus to create a driver training program for inexperienced or problem drivers which uses VR to teach proper driving etiquette and behavior. The trainee doesn't even have to drive; it can all take place over the device in a virtual environment.

Other manufacturers like Tesla, Mercedes, and Hyundai have developed or are planning smartwatch apps to integrate with their vehicles and provide useful features for improving driver experience. Connectivity to a global internet service could invoke new approaches to GPS locationing and voice-command web browsing. Smarter driving could reduce the staggering 1.3 million people who die in auto accidents each year.

Wearable devices that give us better interaction with our vehicles may save lives. Add in benefits to both production and marketing, and it's very likely that within a few years the automotive experience will change forever.

By Lindsey PattersonEmbed

Author Bio - Lindsey is a freelance writer specializing in business and consumer technology.


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