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ROBRADY reports: The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Hi-Tech Over Horsepower

ROBRADY’s Director of Design Rob Brady and Senior Designer Erik Holmen traveled to the warm and inviting city of Tokyo this week for the Tokyo Motor Show, and what a show it was.

One of the hallmarks of this year’s impressive lineup of prototypes and products was a focus on innovative milestones instead of miles per hour.

“Autonomous is a hot topic, associated with self-driving cars, Tesla and Google,”says Brady. “But what’s notable here at TMS is its association with another word: safety.”

Innovations in OLEDs and AR technology are being leveraged by manufacturers to take create more effective communication between car and driver, car and pedestrian, even driver and driver. Illumination now is about more than just lighting the way. Using animated light displays, cars can attract a pedestrian’s attention to alert them of potential danger—an important concern in an age of near-silent vehicles and ubiquitous distraction of mobile technology.

Don’t text and drive…unless you’re the car.

OLED advances and illuminated body panels represent dramatic advances over lamps that just flash and blink. The next generation of vehicles will be able to literally spell things out for other drivers and pedestrians with text to alert them to upcoming turns, traffic conditions, or even a driver’s state of health and need for medical attention.

Continental Automotive Group, a friend of ROBRADY design known for tires as well as instrumentation and HUDs, discussed an augmented reality display in development that will enhance a driver’s situational awareness to unprecedented levels. Sensors in the vehicle detect objects, such as joggers wearing dark clothing at night, and translate the information into AR images sewn seamlessly into the environment.

Further expanding the driver-vehicle interaction, Continental also discussed high-resolution haptic feedback displays. The ultra-sharp imagery created a 3D experience while the subtle movements of certain features meant a driver could receive information without having to take their eyes off the road.

“Conventional concepts of driver, passenger, even vehicle were up for grabs,” declared Brady. “That was what made this year’s show so exciting.”

Manufacturers expanded their design thinking to be more inclusive of disabled drivers and passengers. Several companies, including Toyota, featured concepts with doors and hatches that could open up nearly the entire side of a vehicle for greater wheel chair access.

Brady reflects on the two-day Tokyo show with a combination of excitement and satisfaction.

“Our studio humanizes technology and to see the result when that kind of design thinking and creativity is applied in the transportation market is absolutely mind-blowing.”

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