Vice President, Rational Smarter Product Development
IBM Software Group
As cars have transformed over the years, the driver experience has changed dramatically. In the 1980's, car interiors went through a radical shift as mechanical gauges gave way to digital, electronic nerve centers. This transformation wasn't always pretty and it resulted in some of the craziest looking dashboards. And, they weren't just ugly, they were also hard to use effectively. I remember driving a friend's 1989 Ford Probe on a long trip trying to keep the digital speedometer at a constant and safe speed. Without a dial, it was really hard to get any sense of acceleration.
As cars have transformed again to a software driven experience, there are still hits and misses on the user interface. Getting it right really matters to the success of a car brand today. One thing is certain, though.....connected, extensible, software driven interiors are here to stay. It is hard to imagine a car that will not allow bluetooth and USB connectivity in 2014, and full internet access and the ability to add 'apps' to cars will be commonplace. Driver assisted technologies rolled out first in luxury cars but they are already becoming available in cars of all segments.