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[Interview] How Samsung’s Digital Cockpit Lab Brought the Car of the Future into Reality
Samsung Electronics unveiled its first Digital Cockpit at CES 2018, co-developed with HARMAN. A year later, the company revealed the Digital Cockpit 2019, a revamped version of the platform incorporating insight from research and consumer feedback. While the Digital Cockpit 2019 presents an enriched automotive experience with improved personalization, connectivity and safety using a suite of IoT solutions, it poses the fundamental question – what do you want to do in your car?
Samsung Newsroom sat down with the Digital Cockpit Lab from Samsung’s Automotive Electronics Business Team to learn how they brought the car of the future into a reality.
The Digital Cockpit Connects Our Lives
The cockpit is the dashboard of the car in front of the driver and the passenger seat. A ‘Digital Cockpit’ is a platform that comes with the latest digital technology which takes the overall in-vehicle system to the next level. With Samsung’s latest Digital Cockpit 2019, the new platform provides full vehicle control for drivers and a variety of tailored content to the passengers as well.
In today’s world, the car is more than just a mode of transportation — it is a space that connects different parts of our lives together. Surprisingly, you will be able to use all of these features in the near future.
At home, you start the car and adjust the temperature in your car from your living room via Galaxy Home.
Once everyone gets in, your car starts to play tailored content for each passenger with face recognition technology.
The car also informs you of possible danger by scanning moving objects and tries to prevent dangerous situations from happening like when the driver dozes off while driving.
On the move, you can even check what’s inside your home refrigerator via the car system, in order to prepare for the evening’s dinner.
“If your destination is a soccer field, the car transforms itself into the soccer field by playing soccer game content while you are on the go,” said JH Yun, digital circuit designer from the Samsung Digital Cockpit Lab. “The volume of content that you can enjoy in your car will expand naturally. What we need to do is to create an optimal environment for you to enjoy that content in your car.”
A feature called ‘Home to Car’ is an example of the leading-edge innovation featured in the Digital Cockpit. The function allows customers to control their cars at home through the SmartThings app. “One of the biggest advantages the connected vehicle offers is that there are no spatial constraints,” said Junhong Kim, software developer. “You can start the car, check the gas level and more, regardless of your distance from the vehicle. We are ready for the next generation of mobility.”
When your hands are on the wheel to control your driving safely, a voice command can be the best alternative when you are interacting with your car. Bixby, Samsung’s AI platform, has been integrated into the Digital Cockpit undergoing a transformation in order to fit into the vehicle environment.
“We conducted voice command tuning and adjusted it to the vehicle environment by enhancing the icon and font size so that a driver can see them well while they are driving,” said Jonghee Choi, user interface developer. “And an increased interoperability with third-party services offers a wide range of information like weather forecast and flight schedule from your seat.”
No Matter Where You Sit, the Car Provides You with the Best Experience
While the previous Digital Cockpit had three displays, the 2019 version has a total of six displays delivering tailored infotainment to all passengers. For instance, passengers in the back seat will also be able to enjoy tailored content from their own screens.
“All of the displays will enable you to enjoy high resolution videos in your car without hassle,” said Wonhee Jo, hardware circuit designer. “Not only that, the back-seat screens can be folded conveniently into the seats when they are not in use.”
The screens can also recognize your face wherever you sit and suggest content based on the preferences of pre-registered passengers in which they can activate or deactivate the feature.
“It’s amazing because you can enjoy your in-vehicle experience seamlessly even if you sit in a different seat,” said Seungwoo Shin, user experience designer. “Each passenger can enjoy different content, or they can just sync all of the screens to enjoy the same content, as if they were watching it from the living room of their homes.”
“The experience of each passenger can be managed for each seat,” said Daesoo Choi, human interface developer. “The passengers can make detailed adjustments such as the height, angle and temperature of each seat or the screen’s brightness.”
When a vehicle is equipped with various sophisticated technologies, the challenges increase. One of the challenges had to do with the number of buttons. Not only were the least used buttons taking up space, they were also ineffective. So, the team solved the problem with a knob. “We got a hint from a knob on the Samsung Galaxy Watch when we were thinking about ways to fuse analog nostalgia with the digital world. And we solved the problem with a single knob that can serve as the functions of various buttons,” said JH Yun, digital circuit designer. “This year’s Digital Cockpit will also have knobs in the back seat that can be activated according to the user’s preference.”
Nine Cameras Cover Every Direction, Ensuring Safety on the Road
A car must assure the safety of its driver and passengers. In order to support safe driving, the Digital Cockpit 2019 is equipped with a total of nine cameras.
The Digital Cockpit features a ‘Mirror Replacement Vision System (MRVS)’ that replaces side-view mirrors in conventional cars. The system consists of two displays on both sides and it helps safer driving by detecting moving objects in the rear when the driver checks behind them. By utilizing the camera technology, Digital Cockpit 2019 ensures safer driving with a wider viewing angle.
The Digital Cockpit also monitors the driver’s condition through a system that tracks the driver’s pupils to detect drowsy eyes or careless driving. “The Driver Monitoring System is an essential technology for autonomous driving in the near future,” said Seungwon Oh, camera system developer.
Drivers can sometimes miss the system alert while they are looking ahead when they are on the road. To prevent this from happening, the Digital Cockpit 2019 provides additional alerts. “We’ve added a vibration alert by using the Samsung Galaxy Watch on your wrist,” said Oh.
In the next installment in this series, we will go behind-the-scene stories on the team’s close collaboration and its continuous efforts to connect our lives will be disclosed. Stay tuned.