SCENT AND THE AWARE CAR
Scent and the interior experience in automobiles is about to get interesting. As we progress in to a new era of technocentric automobiles, cars are gaining senses and new awareness. Today, there are cars on the road using mapping and sensing techniques that amount to broadcasting an incredible 4-5 Terabytes of information! Daily, we experience early self-driving applications and sensors that tell us other cars are too close.
IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS
The inside of the vehicle has become the new focus. Human-Vehicle interaction is growing beyond voice recognition, touch control, biometric identification and even proprietary Air Touch sensors, enabling hand gestures to adjust controls.
“The cabin of a vehicle is transformed into our new office or living room. Car makers are now making great efforts to adjust to this new reality where new commercial opportunities will emerge.” – Gil Dotan, CEO, Guardian Optical Technologies specialists on Automobile sensors
INTELLIGENCE GATHERS MORE INFORMATION AND REACTS
As the automobile gets more intelligent, it monitors more things, including information about passengers. Using inexpensive and small embedded sensors, the car can monitor and report real-time info about what’s going on inside. Cars that will be on the market next year are more sophisticated than your Fitbit or Apple watch. Multiple OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers are investing in automotive biosensor technologies for measuring heart rate, pulse rate, blood oxygen content, drowsiness, attention, anxiety, and other biometrics. On February 15, 2018, Ford filed a patent application for an ’emotive advisory system’ (link) including ‘Gaze detection, head nods, smile index.’
Advanced seating solutions are incorporating sensors to measure vitals, such as heart rate, breathing patterns, stress, and energy levels. This physiological data can be combined with other inputs, such as eye movement and blinking, facial expressions, posture, head position, and even the driver’s grip on the steering wheel. In-vehicle, they will be monitoring driver & passenger vital signs, keeping track of whether a driver is falling asleep and even registering driver agitation.
A CURE FOR ROAD RAGE?
As stress increases, the likelihood of a person having road rage increases dramatically. Appropriately, if a person has road rage, their stress levels increase more. In-vehicle services can use tech to modify the environment and impact the driver on its own cognition.
The potential for the automobile to act are significant, including the decision to diffuse Scent to calm the driver. Imagine the car detects that the driver is anxious or even angry. It could dispense a Scent to soothe the driver, like lavender, before the real Road Rage cycle begins. Lavender is one of the most well-studied essential oils in terms of its relaxing effects. One study found that lavender oil aromatherapy calmed the nervous system — lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature as well as changing brain waves to a more relaxed state.
A STRESSED DRIVER’S BEHAVIOR DEPENDS ON THEIR COPING ABILITIES
Adding Scent and calming that person could alleviate massive amounts of Road Rage, making a safer & saner driving experience for us all. No one wants to experience Road Rage. In Germany, for example, a gun-wielding driver was accused of firing at more than 762 vehicles and was arrested and jailed. According to authorities, the autobahn sniper was motivated by “annoyance and frustration with traffic.”[i]
OVER 60 BILLION REASONS TO PAY ATTENTION
The automotive industry is currently undergoing transformational changes inside the connected car, enhancing driver & passenger comfort, all demanding smarter and increasingly complex sensors and electronics. This market is expected to grow by double digits annually over the next few years to an expected $61.5B by the end of 2020. Major drivers include increased awareness and demand for more advanced technology by consumers, digitalization of the vehicle, and increased consumer influence worldwide.
LUXURY IS NOW BECOMING STANDARD
In the fight for brand dominance automakers are rapidly adding luxury features in mid-segment cars. Infotainment systems are becoming much more, assuming the role as the “brains” of the vehicle. Apple is working on “Top Secret” developments, including the rumor of buying out Tesla. The interior has skyrocketed in significance, with four main segments — safety, comfort, user interface, and health and wellness.
Scent offers a key component to health & wellness as well as the other three. Only Scent can deal with emotions, alertness, and pleasure. Among the many players in the cockpit electronics space are Alpine Electronics, Bosch, Continental, Delphi Automotive, Denso Corporation, Harman International Industries, Johnson Controls, Nippon Seiki, Panasonic Corporation, Valeo, Visteon Corporation and others.
SCENT IS KEY TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERIENCE
Just as in the real-world environment, Scent is key for impacting moods and memory. With interior environmental sensors to measure everything from temperature to gas content (i.e. oxygen levels), human controls are being replaced by AI. Technology advancements that enable lower-cost Scent diffusion solutions are opening new opportunities for the mid-market segment. This means the addition of Scent to automobiles can leave the stratosphere of Maybach, Mercedes S Class and BMW 7-Series to more affordable cars.
BUILDING PASSENGER AWARE CARS
Volkswagen Group Research in 2016 collaborated with researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, to create the ‘Intelligent Car Interior’ with Bosch and Visteo. The project is developing a cost-effective system for dynamic sensor technology in the vehicle’s interior. This step is to understand the activities in the car and to introduce new elements of awareness, like monitoring needs and shifting the environment, including diffusing Scent.
Recently, in December 2017, Guardian Optical Technologies, an Israeli based startup, created new 2D, 3D and motion analysis sensor technology for the interior of a car to create safer passenger aware cars. The tech can be used to optimize safety, for example, deploying appropriate airbags tailored to the actual vehicle’s passengers and positions in case of an accident. The company says the technology can monitor a car’s entire interior cabin with one sensor and can scan and track passengers and objects inside a vehicle.
The sensor technology provides 2D, 3D and motion analysis data from inside the car. It works with seatbelts, airbags, and other built-in safety systems. It can detect micro-vibrations including each heartbeat inside the car. It can identify the location and physical dimensions of each person in the car. The company claims the sensor can also distinguish between people and objects. The possibility to monitor and send appropriate Scents to individuals inside the car, based on their need is as simple as adjusting the software in Scent equipped cars.
UNIQUE SOUND TO EVERY PASSENGER, WITHOUT HEADPHONES
In February 2017, Israeli Noveto Systems integrated its sound technology into an Mercedes S Class, for the first time ever, making sound truly smart. The technology was integrated and demonstrated live. What made the offering so unique was that it dynamically tracks the user and beams sound directly to their ears, without any intermediate hardware or devices.
“We can direct sound to a specific point in space, say near your ears, and create tiny virtual speakers that only you can hear. For the first time ever, Noveto is able to create a personal, private, intelligent acoustic environment for users, enabling the “Internet of Sound”. – Tomer Shani, CEO of Noveto.
UNIQUE SCENT TO EVERY PASSENGER
Silicon Valley companies experimenting with Scent can make similar claims to Noveto. Separate from the car’s air system, there are solutions that can send a different Scent to the various parts of the car. This means individuals could have their signature Scent to their region of the vehicle. This is a way to help ensure that each vehicle make and every vehicle type is assigned a Scent character of its very own.
Scent will play a major role in the future of the automobile. Stay Tuned!
[i] Kate Connolly (2013-06-25). “Autobahn sniper admits more than 700 road rage shootings in Germany”. The Guardian.