DEARBORN — Vehicle interior planners now have to think beyond the cabin and get their heads into the cloud as the growing driver demand for in-vehicle connectivity changes drive-time activities and behaviors.

New car buyers expect comfort, convenience, and styling in new car purchases. However, they are now demanding critical requirements for making drive-time continually more productive, more entertaining, and more personalized while simultaneously mitigating the risks associated with driver distraction.

That was the message delivered at a Tuesday panel discussion on Using Connectivity to Achieve Driver Happiness at the annual Ward’s Automotive Interiors Conference by Frank Hirschenberger, senior director of product innovation for the Dallas connected vehicle services provider Agero.

Agero provides an array of cloud-based services enhancing in-vehicle navigation, safety, and convenience for multiple automotive brands.

“Drivers want to use their time inside the vehicle to continue specific activities — use their smartphone or tablet to stay connected to the digital world, whether it’s for business, pleasure, or managing personal errands,” Hirschenberger said. “But, the vehicle also needs to be a decompression chamber, a personal retreat where one can satisfy their desire for personal entertainment, information, or communication, while simultaneously providing real-time information on changing traffic, weather, road conditions, and how the vehicle is operating.”

And consumer expectations demand that all of the above must be delivered inside the vehicle with the same speed to market as their smartphone content, but with the higher level of automotive-grade safety and reliability.

“They want their stuff their way, with the ability to incorporate changes over the lifetime of the vehicle,” Hirschenberger Aus. “They don’t care about which technology delivers it. They just want it to work and work easily, reliably, and safely.”

The ability to constantly change the in-vehicle cockpit experience requires interaction with the design of the vehicle’s interior components, systems, and cloud services (ever-changing content and interfaces) developed and updated off-board. Among the list of vehicle interior capabilities Hirschenberger deems critical to providing an optimized and configurable personal experience: composite multi-display rendering and intuitive multi-touch interfaces (i.e., natural voice controls, gesture controls, heads-up displays, augmented reality, and remote and pre-set controls of in-vehicle functions).

Hirschenberger is responsible for managing the development of Agero’s AgeroView cloud-based platform, designed to give automakers greater control over managing updates for the lifetime of the vehicle without worrying about the capabilities of the smartphone or in-vehicle hardware and commonality across devices. The same cloud-based flexibility can be leveraged to enable greater personalization of content and interfaces to drivers.

Agero centers its value proposition to automakers on its ability to serve a full scale of telematics (connected vehicle) needs from one-stop-shop to best-of-class. The company’s success is evidenced by the variety of automakers it serves under private label brands (brands associated with ultra-luxury, premium, mass market, and alternative fuel vehicle segments).

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