Participating for the first time in the Design Challenge, Infiniti designers from its San Diego studio looked toward the future in which augmented reality, 3D hologram and wearable technologies may be a part of the everyday driving experience, creating a seamless interaction between man and machine.
Then, to demonstrate exactly how these futuristic technologies could be used to make driving even more interactive, the Infiniti Design team imagined a vehicle triathlon called the A.R.C. Race which includes air, rally and circuit competitions.
For each of the three races, the SYNAPTIQ design provides a universal fuselage for the driver to control each of the different air, rally and circuit vehicles.
The first is a Formula 1â„¢ -style race car competing in a road course from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Then, the driver pilots an off-road racer to the Grand Canyon. Finally, the third portion of the vehicle triathlon is a radical, gymkhana-style jet air race back to Los Angeles, where the driver would maneuver around 3D holographic rings that mark the course.
For each vehicle and race, the driver stays within the same cockpit, allowing him or her to stay within a familiar environment using the same interfaces. The driver is therefore able to better adapt to any driving or flying situation, as demonstrated with the experiences encountered between the three A.R.C. Race situations and the vehicle types used.
"As designers, we are always looking toward what's next, but SYNAPTIQ allows us to conceptualize what's even further out for drivers in the future," said John Sahs, interior design manager at Infiniti, and leader of the SYNAPTIQ team. "Yet, through the A.R.C. Race concept, we were also able to imagine a way to effectively demonstrate how these technologies could be used, whether the vehicle is on or off road, or even in the air."
The team envisions a modular fuselage on a new human-machine interface that controls the vehicles by connecting the SYNAPTIQ S.U.I.T. (Symbiotic User Interface Technology) through a docking attachment, effectively making man and machine work as one.
Simulating physical interaction with the vehicle, the S.U.I.T. suspends the pilot into the proper position for driving or flying, and is woven with synthetic muscles that both enhance the driving experience and give tactile feedback to the driver.
Inside the fuselage, liquid crystal canopies are enhanced with an augmented reality system that actively display relevant information for the pilot, such as his vital signs and dynamic vehicle updates.
"Our team loved participating in the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge," added Sahs. "It allowed us to gaze even farther into the future, imaging a world where the driving experience is enhanced with technologies that are on one hand futuristic, but are also not that far from reality."