“An overview of Samsung’s vision for connected mobility”
Ubiquitous connectivity is the key that promises to open up unlimited opportunities, and one of the ways it’s going to revolutionise our lives is mobility. I got to see a demo of Samsung’s vision for connected mobility in South Korea, and walked away impressed. Labelled Digital Cockpit, the concept was showcased at this year’s CES in January 2019, and I got a chance to sit inside a Maserati SUV that had the system installed and check out some of the features for myself. The tech for this has been developed by Harman, the automotive electronics company that Samsung acquired a couple of years ago.
In its current form, the system includes eight cameras and nine screens, along with a whole lot of electronics wizardry that drives (pun unintended) the experience. Each component has a specific role to play, and the focus is on driving safety, passenger entertainment, and smart features designed for convenience.
Bixby is integrated of course, and since it’s the 5G era, there’s 5G connectivity as well (worth mentioning that South Korea already has 5G commercially available). One camera on the front of the car, two on each side and one at the back are responsible for detecting objects, vehicles and pedestrians in the front, sides and behind the car. Two cameras on the wing mirrors power a couple of displays placed on either side of the dashboard inside, giving the driver an enhanced view of the sides and back.
There’s one camera placed above the steering which monitors the driver for signs of abnormal behaviour, distraction, drowsiness etc. This data can not only be used to alert the driver, but also by the car owner to monitor the chauffeur’s driving patterns and by insurance companies. Another camera placed near the visor monitors passengers on the back of the car. These cameras use face recognition to identify passengers, and the system can set each person’s preferred settings (seat reclining positions and other stuff) on its own.
The cluster display in front of the driver is completely customisable. The main display on the centre of the dashboard offers the usual functions such as navigation, entertainment, phone calls etc. It even integrates SmartThings, Samsung’s IoT platform, and lets the driver or the front passenger control smart home devices remotely. The front passenger and those seated at the back get their own displays as well. The rear screens retract inside the seats when not in use, and can be brought up at a touch of a button.
Then there’s the central control system, placed right below the main display. It gets its own touchscreen display of course, and allows the driver to control all aspects of the car, including climate control, suspension, etc. A couple of large contextual knobs in the middle can be set to control any two of the driver’s favourite settings, with the small displays on the face of the knobs displaying the icons for each of the settings. For example, one knob can be set to activate Bixby, while the other can be set to display a clock or change the climate control temperature settings. Two of these contextual knobs are placed on the rear armrest as well, for use by rear passengers. The armrest and the central console have DeX docks as well, so passengers can slide in their Samsung smartphones and view the content on their own individual large screen. Content from one display can also be mirrored on to others in case one person wants to share content.
While the Digital Cockpit isn’t commercially available yet, the demo I saw proved the system is ready and the tech isn’t just another pipe dream for the utopian future. As to when it might be available and when it’s likely to make its way to India, your guess is as good as mine. The way I see it though, Samsung is on the right track, and if its Digital Cockpit is the highway to the future, the road ahead looks clear and smooth.
Disclosure: this writer was in South Korea on Samsung India’s invitation