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New technology fuels experiences per mile

For many a car is not just a mode of getting from A to B – in the words of Marshall McLuhan, “the car has become a carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man”.

Chris Ludwig, VP of the EPIC Experience Team at HARMAN.

The great Canadian philosopher wrote those words a long time before the connected car was even a concept (in fact, the World Wide Web arrived around a decade after his passing). But, they ring true today, with the vehicle becoming a moving study, lounge, dining room and entertainment center.

These are some of the trends identified by HARMAN. HARMAN, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, and which focuses on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets.

HARMAN’s understanding of changing consumer incar expectations has resulted in the launch of three new ExP concepts – Gaming Intense Max, Creator Studio and Drive-Live Concert. They demonstrate the capabilities of HARMAN technology, woven together to create what the company calls “a rich, immersive experience” to meet indemand consumer needs.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Chris Ludwig, VP of the EPIC Experience Team, to give us an insight into HARMAN’s overarching mobility strategy.

Ludwig: What we are looking for is to truly impact peoples’ lives with technologies that are ultimately transformative in a meaningful way. Mobility is not as much as getting from point A to point B, as it used to be. It is really changing into how we can leverage mobility to be an extension of our lives. This concept of the third living space is really driven by our finding that people were doing a lot of things in their cars other than just driving.

They were working. They were playing. On a personal note, I have a 17-year-old daughter and we found the car is her own personal sanctuary to either escape from school or do her Tik Tok videos – it is an extension of her living space. What we have done is to take the challenge of transforming the idea of mobility from just getting from point A to point B into an asset that can be utilized in everyday life and everyday living, supporting things that we are all passionate about.

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AI: What needs and pain points did you identify?

Ludwig: I think everybody can appreciate that the phone call in a vehicle is not perfect, because either you cannot hear the person in the car, or you are distracted with music or other people in the car. So, that was a real pain point that we identified in terms of talking to people.

If you look at the Creator Studio ExP, we are leveraging our ClearChat technology such that you do not have to deal with extraneous noises. If there is music in the car, if my kids are in the back yelling – none of that comes through to the listener at the other end of the call. So, I can have a pleasurable phone call experience in the vehicle without disturbing the other passengers in the car and the person at the far end of the call has a very clean experience as well. Creator Studio ExP can also be used for the recording of a video or a blog, where it excludes all extraneous noise.

AI: Do you think OEMs will benefit from advanced personalization and technological synergies?

Ludwig: In my role I work pretty much with every OEM on the planet. I think OEMs in general are getting to be more experiential focused. Personalization plays a huge role on that – how we becomes an elevated experience because you go to your car and not disturb anybody.

The Creator Studio taps into the social media trends of blogging and Tik Toking. A car is an ideal mini recording studio because it has microphones in it; it has speakers in it; and it has displays and cameras from our ADAS systems. We can use those same technologies to record you, and you will also be able to edit in the car, which is now a personal recording studio.

Our Drive-Live Concert is for people gravitating towards experiencing music in new ways as we all are facing a world where we cannot really go to live concerts. Our research found that people like to be interactive. They want to feel the energy of the concert. They want to communicate with the artist, and they want the artist to communicate with them. You can enjoy this interactive concert experience in a car because the speakers and other technology are already installed.  We can bring about the interactions with a 5G connectivity.

When things get back to normal, it becomes an extension for artist and musicians to be able to deliver their music to a wider audience. If I want to go to a concert in Europe and I cannot be there I can dial in with a vehicle that is custom tailored to give me the ultimate experience as if I were there. It is really thinking about growing the vehicle system, growing the possibilities of live music and leveraging this live platform in order to do so.


can really have my car tailored to my own experiences the way I want them to be. You and I probably have different preferences, but each one of those preferences we can wire up to an overall personalized experience that maybe I would like, and you do not.

AI: What new mobility experience concepts are you working on?

Ludwig: All these experiences were really developed as a concept of a third space. So, we looked at the big question, what can you do in the car when it is not moving? So, we peeled the onion back on that and figured out three really unique things based on consumer insights. That is how Gaming Intense Max, Creator Studio and Drive-Live Concert were born.

Gaming is a huge megatrend. A car can be the ultimate gaming machine. If you think about it, it has the perfectly tuned audio system with all the speakers at the right spot. We can integrate everything with haptics in the seat; We have a personal audio headrest which provides immersive audio; and we have fixed display technologies. If you are a gamer, it really there I can dial in with a vehicle that is custom tailored to give me the ultimate experience as if I were there. It is really thinking about growing the vehicle system, growing the possibilities of live music and leveraging this live platform in order to do so.

AI: How will HARMAN’s ExP concepts evolve in 2021?

Ludwig: This is just the beginning. We are going to be exploring a whole different set of spaces, including wellness and vitality. One really big gap we have identified in our research is that the car is not necessarily promoting wellness.

It is an opportunity to leverage the car to help you with wellness rather than detract you from wellness and vitality. And that is a space that we are definitely going to be exploring in 2021.

Similarly, we have looked at the concept of a having a conversation around the kitchen table. The car is a similar kind of structure. We will be exploring the possibility of the car becoming that dining table experience. We will be leveraging the vehicle to be that social connection, that family engagement space to allow us to be closer together, and promote connection as opposed to separation.

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Fri. June 14th, 2024

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