Smart glazing for the next generation of autonomous vehicles
When drivers no longer have to concentrate on the road they will take more notice of their surroundings in the vehicle, and the levels of comfort and convenience. Most of the surfaces they look at will be glass in one form or another. Developments in the design of glazing systems are creating opportunities for OEMs to differentiate their vehicles and to add revenue-generating services while reducing their carbon footprint.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Vincent Ricco, Director, Strategy, Innovation Programs, Business Partnerships at Saint-Gobain Sekurit, how the autonomous vehicle will change lifestyles.
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Transforming reality... a story with history!
The concept of reinventing reality was born, but it will take decades before it became real! Indeed, Labs and universities devoted enormous amount of research and resources to new forms of interactions and computer-altered realities, or “artificial reality”.
From the “The Sword of Damocles” first virtual reality head-mounted display system in 1968 to adding data to the real world for educational and training purposes, to Dancing In Cyberspace, “the first Augmented Reality Theater production in Australia in 1994, things moved pretty fast.
In the mid-2010s, things accelerated quickly
From professional applications, military spaces or architecture, augmented reality became mainstream as major players entered the field.
In 2013, Google introduce the Google Glass, lightweight augmented reality glasses. In 2015, Microsoft presented HoloLens, an augmented reality headset and software stack able to mix 3D holograms with the real-world environment.
Personalization is KEY
The dream of enhancing reality becoming more and more feasible, this raised the question of personalization. Since we could now create a ‘new reality,’ adapting it to our needs and desires as much as possible rapidly became the new goal!
Indeed, for companies, artificial reality is helping to make sure they are delivering tailored & comfortable experiences to customers. This is of course highly appreciated and leads to significant purchasing actions.
In the automotive industry for example, Volkswagen became the first car manufacturer to launch an AR app targeting a general audience. Indeed, introduced in 2013, MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) acts as an interactive instruction repair manual, showing users the parts to replace and the tools required, all projected on top of the actual car through a digital tablet.
Glass: an essential in this technological adventure
Clearly, what these examples and this historical throwback show is that glazing has continuously played a key role in the quest for augmented reality in our daily lives.
Every display experience is supported by glass. This material must be able to enhance the image and contribute directly to the quality of the experience.
For automotive glazing, displaying augmented reality through the various glazing parts will be a plus. Especially, when cars become fully autonomous. Each glazing could serve as a display.
Therefore, vehicle glass manufacturers must work on having better optical technicity to perfectly support the augmented reality. Now more than ever, Autonomous vehicles are at our fingertips.
Saint-Gobain Sekurit, clearly intends to play a leading role by focusing on creating value for both end-consumers and car manufacturers ready to sustainably support this transformation.
AUTOMOTIVE MARKET IN ASIA: THE BEST IS YET TO COME
Asian economies, from very mature ones such as Japan or South Korea to more modest markets in terms of development like Vietnam or Indonesia, have been collectively growing at a consolidated average of 5% for the last ten years, and generating incremental wealth of more than one Trillion USD every year. In this context the automotive industry has gradually evolved outpacing GDP with growing rates above 10% and reaching consolidated production of 50 million cars per annum, half of them built in China. Not so long ago, the car, a genuine Western product made for highly equipped transport infrastructures was revolutionized by the Japanese and Koreans car makers, equilibrating the balance to the East. In my modest view, however, the best is still to come: the future looks extremely bright.
Japan is the most mature country in Asian Auto Industry, hosting the n.2 car maker worldwide, Toyota, and the n.1 if we count the most successful intercontinental alliance between Nissan and Renault. Japan is a unique monoculture market as only Japanese origin manufacturers produce cars in this country. Yet, somehow despite being global, Japanese trends also influence OEMs strategy.
South-Korean car makers namely HKMC, a second mature market in the region, complete the Asian leading runners with 8M worldwide production half of it in Korea itself. A big chunk of this local production is for exports. South-Koreans are learning from the other global players with VW group as a global benchmark.
China is the largest single market in the world. It is not only evolving rapidly but in a very unique way as well. First, it is the most diverse place with all relevant players: Americans, Europeans, Asian, competing in 50/50 JVs with rapidly growing local companies. In a market where regulations are single driven and policies adapted without hesitation, this makes the Chinese market dynamics even speedier.
It is amazing to see the number of traditional car manufacturers, but also new start-ups making huge investments in Electrical Vehicle developments. This is mainly incentivized by environmental regulations, but also with the conviction that, first the powering network and appropriate infrastructures will be built and second that China will lead this segment. We should not forget that 25M cars China produces are almost exclusively for the local market consumption, so far.
On a different scale we find the South East Asian market, which includes a huge population with low average income where the geographical dispersion and the lack of adequate infrastructures sometimes limit the real potential and ability to create critical mass sized production sites. For the long term, this population is heading growth in numbers and fighting dynamically for a better future and mid class symbols, like a car. Affordability is the name of the game here.
In these complex and wide contexts, the challenges for the producers, whether cars or components are huge. How to combine global designs with locally adapted innovations? Should we expect more digitalization in a complex European environment or in a country like China were people are already payingwith their smartphones up to 6 trillion USD with AlyPay or Wechat every year? Is Japan more environmentally friendly than the US? Maybe yes.
The rapid middle-class explosion in this region alongside locally accelerated mega-trends like digitalization, electrification, and environmental protection will reshape the industry, making product design very challenging for all of us. But the old classical market segmentation and positioning are no longer valid in a long-term perspective. Even the clear-cut distinction between products and services is being challenged. Customers want it all. Comfort, safety, connectivity, sustainability...
Automotive glazing, although millenary and with noble material, has been reshaped in this new paradigm. We are more than ever putting ourselves in the shoes of end-users by designing solutions to make them feel safe, comfortable, in control of their journey, and the energy used.
Indeed, at Saint-Gobain Sekurit, we create solutions to care for the multiple aspects of comfort, thermal, visual or acoustic, and all in co-creation with the car makers. These solutions bringing higher levels of safety are becoming electrical and digital, displaying information or optimizing energy consumption in innovative composition.
From observing the way, the automotive industry is changing from a moving device, a status symbol, to a mobility experience, a symbol of attitudes and life style, we can clearly state that it is going to be faster here in Asia.