Polestar Launches Interactive Preview of its Android-powered Infotainment System
Polestar, the luxury electric brand of China's Geely (which is the parent company of Volvo), has launched an interactive website allowing users to preview its new Android-based infotainment system featured in the upcoming Polestar 2 electric vehicle. The website allows users to experience how the system works, however the interactive preview is only accessible by using a tablet or smartphone.
The Android-powered infotainment system will come preinstalled in the Polestar 2 and its features include built-in Google apps, including Google Maps, the Google Play Store, and the voice-controlled Google Assistant. With Google Maps built-in, Polestar is able to offer features like real-time traffic information while removing the need for a driver to use a smartphone for navigation.
Polestar is one of the first automakers using Google's new Android OS in a production vehicle. The automaker says the Android-powered infotainment system essentially "future proofs" the vehicle by offering automatic over-the-air software updates, so it stays up to date. The Android operating system (OS) of the Polestar is always connected to the internet making the vehicle a truly connected car.
Polestar said a primary focus of the design of the system was to keep the user interface (UI) uncluttered and have important information easily accessible from the home screen. This way a driver doesn't have to navigate through sub-menus to control the common vehicle's functions and can keep their eyes on the road instead. Polestar also enlarged the buttons, so drivers can make selections easier.
"UI's tend not to be driver oriented," says Amil Gasanin, the graphic designer responsible for the Polestar 2 UI design. "They also have comparatively small touch areas, taking more of your attention which should be on the road."
Instead of collapsible menus, Polestar designed a simple, four-tile grid system. Each tile has default app groupings which can be customized, with three large buttons for quick access to these custom groups. These shortcuts are designed to minimize distractions.
Another design choice which makes the UI more driver-centric, while reducing time spent not focusing on the road, is a screen containing the apps accessed most often. "This reduces the amount of interactions needed to reach the most-used functions, for example the 360° camera," said Aloka Muddukrishna, who is responsible for Polestar 2's User Experience.
Google Voice Assistant Built-in
Google Assistant allows drivers to control the Polestar with just their voice. Using voice commands, a driver can ask to change the interior the temperature or play a specific song. The latest Google Assistant includes significant advancements in machine learning, language understanding, and speech recognition, so it responds to commands naturally.
No More Car Keys
The Polestar 2 will make use of the driver's phone to access the car. The UI wakes up incrementally. As the driver first approaches the vehicle, the Polestar senses the presence of their phone and the vehicle's display wakes up, showing limited information such as charge status and current range.
Once the driver enters the car and sits down, intelligent sensors in the driver seat signal to the UI to wake up even further, granting access to the rest of the car's functions.
The Polestar 2 is set to debut later this year as a 2020 model. According to Polestar, the vehicle will have a 300 plus mile electric range start around $40,000 to compete with the Tesla Model 3.
In addition to working with Polestar, Google is extending its reach into the automotive industry by partnering with global auto alliance Renault Nissan Mitsubishi, which sells millions of cars globally each year. The Android OS will be available in select models beginning in 2021.
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