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BW Businessworld

Immersive Technologies Creating A New Wave Of Innovation For Automotive Industry

Anil Sondur, from Tata Elxsi talks about some of these new technologies and how they are impacting the entire automotive industry

Photo Credit :

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When we think about the future of the automotive industry, self-driving cars and electric vehicles come to mind. But there is also great potential in other innovative technologies. Immersive media, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, will deeply change the automotive industry and are already beginning to redefine the customer and employee experience. Anil Sondur, Executive Vice President, Embedded Technology, Industrial Design, and Visual Content, Tata Elxsi, in an interaction with Siddharth Shankar from BW Businessworld talks about some of these new technologies and how they are impacting the entire automotive industry.


Q Where do you think these new technologies fit in the automotive industry.

A In automotive industry we are essentially using these technologies in three areas. The first one is product development, the second one is marketing and the third is training. So these are the three areas where we are applying the augmented reality virtual reality and immersive reality in the automotive industry 


Q How do these technologies aid in Product development, Marketing, and training?

- Product Development :  

What is happening is. Augmented reality and immersive reality are now playing a very key role in enabling people – engineering people, design people, and management people to visualize in depth the product development, whether it is a full vehicle level or at a specific component level they are able to now do it, across multiple locations using devices like Oculus or Hololens and without moving from their place. While having a very in-depth view of each and every component in the vehicle. Tata Elxsi is facilitating this by developing routines and writing code on top of, off the shelf available platform and customizing that for each Automotive OEM’s product development process.


Marketing : 

Back in 2016, at Geneva Auto show, Tata Motors had displayed three cars – RaceMo, Tiago and Tigor. We had created a virtual reality bar there in the Geneva Motor Show in the Tata Motors stall giving a completely immersive experience of the vehicle in various Geographic locations. So a person could come in and actually be able to enjoy a drive in various terrains of both Tiago and Tigor. For RaceMo we had done a complete augmented reality kiosk using Hololens, you can see various features like the engine the door opening and many other features. This was a big success in Geneva Auto Show and since then we have done many projects on the same line with other manufacturers.

Training 

When it comes to Automotive repair work, the majority of the responsibilities lies with the dealership and there is always a big gap between the information available with the OEM and the information available at the dealership. One very good methodology, which is developing is using augmented reality to help the technician or the mechanic to not only look at the vehicle components and get to know the method of fixing that problem because we could also get a lot of additional information. We are trying to build a complete training and complete repair methodology using augmented reality. This system is one of the very powerful upcoming tools because here it is a mixed thing. The user (a technician) is actually seeing the physical part as well as getting information right in front.


Q What are the capabilities of Tata Elxsi with these new technologies?

These technologies require three very unique things – One is computer programming which includes both graphics system programming as well as embedded system programming. The Second thing needed is design related capabilities where an entire user interface has to be designed where the customer requirement is to interact with the device. Third is the creation of content, because these technologies are based on part real content and part developed content. Bringing them together in a simple 2D environment or a fully immersive 360degree environment needs content development capabilities. 

With TATA Elxsi we have all these three as long-standing traditional businesses, we have got all of them together and we are offering consulting and this practice to our customers.


Q Apart from these technologies what other technologies do you see coming into this space?

Lately, a lot of development is happening on “devices”, as of today most of the devices are wired devices. We believe next immediate development is gonna be wireless devices, they are already in the making and we are also working on a lot of R&D in that. When you don’t need to hide any wires, it makes a big difference for any kind of implementation of this kind of technology when this happens more and more stylish devices will come in, devices will become lighter which will be more comfortable and ergonomically better designed.

The other big thing to come in will be the broadcasting of immersive experiences, with lighter devices and more content available, users could experience an automobile sitting at their home. 


Q Driver interface using these technologies?

A We are developing an E-Cockpit, which our I.P. but before that, there is an intermediate step which is integrating the infotainment, instrument cluster and the heads-up-display system into one system. E-Cockpit system integrates all these systems into one control unit, wherein data can be shared between all three systems. Information can be pulled from any of these systems and displayed using augmented reality technology or any other.

Q What do you think are the challenges for OEMs to implement these technologies in their workflow?

A There are two steps to this, A proof of concept and then a mass scale deployment, this is the time-consuming part. Then comes the getting good resources to develop this application and training people for deployment. These are going to be the major challenges for OEMs 



All through the automotive industry (Design, Marketing, Training, and User experience), Immersive technology is today the most relevant and innovative digital format. Adding digital elements on the world around us, it brings immediate value to end-users and the automotive industry. Thanks to different technologies and approaches, immersive technologies show a unique opportunity for OEMs to improve their communication in advertising, communication to tell relevant and engaging stories. Immersive technology is the new format of the brand experience.