Connected thinking and multidisciplinary exchange at A2A 2015

Around 100 guests exchanged their thoughts regarding the latest developments in the connected world during this year's GIGATRONIK symposium "A2A - Apps to Automotive". The multidisciplinary conference took place for the sixth time, however, and for the first time, the range of topics went far beyond the area of the automotive sector. This development was received positively by the participants.

This year's A2A symposium, which took place in Esslingen's Neckar Forum on 11 June, was not only about solutions for the automotive industry. Smart products for all areas of life continue to gain significance and entire systems of interconnected smart products increasingly emerge. Cars have become a part of this connected world that human beings are surrounded by and that is becoming ever more connected. This is why the subject area of the “Connected World” was the framework of this year's symposium hosted by GIGATRONIK.

“The trend towards smart products is relevant to everybody. This is why product manufacturers who want to continue to be innovation leaders, have to gear their business strategy towards smart products” said Dr.-Ing. Edwin Tscheschlok, GIGATRONIK's Chairman of the Board in his opening speech. A product is considered smart, if it contains information technology and becomes part of a system of products. Tscheschlok continued to explain that the impact information technology has on products currently and in the future was stronger than ever. After all it was not only the supply chain, processes and procedures that were changing through the advance of information technology, but also the products themselves. Any company contributing to optimising connected systems was among the winners. The technical and strategic aspects involved were subsequently addressed by the speakers during the symposium.

Products' success owing to creativity, emotionality and user experience

Creativity and innovation are key elements when it comes to facilitating new business models. Rinspeed AG's CEO Frank Rinderknecht convincingly made this point in his opening keynotes. According to the Swiss speaker, Rinspeed's concept car "Budii" is merely the current culmination of innovations developed through consequent lateral thinking. Rinderknecht calls for new ways of thinking which create uniqueness and awaken desires in human beings. The CEO continued to explain that 95 % of consumer behaviour was driven by emotion and that this was the reason why understanding people was the key to success.

Making sophisticated technology and its benefits available to human users has become a central task as well as a discipline in its own right. HMI design and the user experience were therefore among the key issues that were discussed by beyondHMI's CEO Dr.-Ing. Peter Rößger and Daniel Prokop, front-end-developer and UX designer with GIGATRONIK, in their speeches during this year's A2A. In an expert contribution, Jasmin Kuhn and Dennis Nobel of Itemis took a look at the issue of usability against the backdrop of the heterogeneous environment of smart home services. Their suggested solution is an integrated control platform facilitating the use of various services.

Daniel Prokop explained during his lecture that positive user experiences were closely linked to the users' trust in a product and the level of security provided. User-friendly handling is often missed out, in particular when it comes to security. If security mechanisms are too inconvenient, users are likely to avoid them. So how does the perception of security need to be designed, in order to meet the users' needs? By reducing the amount of time, effort and skill required to make products and services usable, Mr Prokop continued to explain. This would also boost the confidence people have in highly complex systems, such as driving assistance systems or even autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous driving creates new application situations and challenges

The first self-driving truck, the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 and the associated Freightliner Inspiration Truck are based on a particularly sophisticated HMI concept, which was presented by Friedrich Niehaus of Daimler. GIGATRONIK were also involved in the system's development. The full graphic vehicle display and affiliated HMI tablet PC adapt their operating modes depending on whether the truck is being steered by a driver or driving autonomously. Due to the user interface's varying colour schemes, the Inspiration Truck's driver can always tell which operating mode the truck is currently in. Should the driver's seat be vacated during a journey in the autonomous operating mode, the system will use audible and visible signals to prompt the driver to return to the seat, in order to be able to take control of the vehicle at any time. Through confidence in the system and the availability of various new applications, from logistics management through to social interaction, drivers are encouraged to use the autonomous driving mode.

Audi also presented their piloted driving concept. The RS 7 piloted driving concept was introduced by Peter Bergmiller and could be seen up close in the foyer. With a speed of up to 250 km/h on the racetrack, Audi takes driverless driving to the limit. When it comes to road traffic in the real world, semi-autonomous driving is expected to be the next step. This would include the car taking over control in certain situations, such as traffic jams or during the parking process. Intensive work continues to be underway to advance automation with the prospect of increasing road safety, eco-friendly driving, customer convenience and an efficient use of infrastructure, Mr Bergmiller explained.

New apps for the vehicle environment

At Stuttgart Media University, connected or autonomous vehicles are also considered from an entertainment point of view. In cooperation with RMIT University’s Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab) in Melbourne and Karlsruhe, Prof. Ansgar Gerlicher (HdM) and his colleagues are - among other projects - currently developing a Virtual Traffic Companion. This app is able to spot traffic jams and red lights via smart phone sensors and it activates certain applications - such as games - based on the situation.

Developing vehicle related apps requires relevant vehicle data to be available. In order to facilitate this, Daimler offer support to higher education institutions within the scope of a “Telematics App-Challenge”. Vehicle data is made available for a number of company vehicles via a telematics unit and provided to the institutions. Daimler award prizes for the best apps that are created as part of the challenge.

Becoming a provider for premium individual mobility services is already a firmly rooted part of BMW's corporate strategy. Joachim Hauser of BMW presented the business model by means of introducing a service for finding and booking parking spaces called “ParkNow”. This service is available to drivers of all brands.

Wolfgang Baierl of Bosch presented the robotic lawn mower “Indego”, showing that the demand for connected solutions is not limited to the automotive environment. While a survey in 2011 found that customers considered the mowing function to be paramount, in 2013 they additionally requested remote monitoring and control. The connected solution that was developed for Indego as a result, is based on an integrated GSM module which serves as a communication unit. Bosch entered into contracts with network providers to cover the cost. There are already plans for further connected products using the same infrastructure.

In addition to the lectures, exhibits were displayed in the foyer and in the evening there was a culinary event on the gallery, offering the participants ample networking opportunities. Felix Traier, in charge of the symposium's overall coordination and a team leader with GIGATRONIK, moderated the event. His summary of the event was rather positive: “I am pleased about the visitors' positive feedback about A2A 2015. Our decision to expand the event by including the subject of the connected world was very well received. As parts of the connected world, a lawn mower and a car have more in common than you might think at first glance. In my opinion, interdisciplinary exchange is what the A2A is all about.”

The 7th symposium will take place on 9 June 2016 and will be based on the same concept.

What participants said about A2A 2015:

“Terrific lectures, very well organised, I'll be back!”
Dr.-Ing. Peter Rößger, CEO of beyondHMI/////

“Authentic event with a good blend of industry and research”
Thomas Fleischmann, Head of Technology & Innovation - Connected Car with Elektrobit Automotive GmbH

Please take a look at our picture gallery from A2A 2015 here on our Facebook page. 

Florian Rubländer
Corporate Communications