Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles Sponsored Project - Alfa Romeo Connubio is a two-seat electric sports car designed for 2030. We named the car Connubio which means “marriage/union” in Italian. It represents the bond of man and machine. I have collaborated with transportation designers, graphic designers and fashion designers in this project. My role was to design the user experience and the human-machine interfaces for the car.
For the first two weeks of the project, we did the branding studies. We studied Italian design, Alfa Romeo brand and their racing heritage. The design challenge was to design a “sexy, alluring, passionate” car while sticking to the roots of Alfa Romeo’s racing heritage.
The interior of the car is driver-focused. There is an asymmetry in the interior emphasizing the driver. The infotainment screen and the gauges are facing the driver. After the ergo studies me and the interior designer decided on a 13” screen size. It’s 5 by 12. Designing for an extra wide screen was a challenge so I’ve basically tried to divide the screen into three columns.
Because it’s a driver-centered infotainment screen, I’ve put the controls on the left side. And the 3D map is on the right side. It’s an electric vehicle so the battery information is important to show also in the navigation.
The basic controls are on the left side again. The playlist is in the middle and the media apps are on the right side. Your infotainment is synched with your smart phones so you can use the media apps such as Apple Music and Spotify, etc.
The reason I’ve used three columns is because the left side is for the driver. The right side is for the co-pilot and the middle is for the car.
There are some basic information about the car for tuning, tire pressure/tire temperature and the battery.
The infotainment is integrated with the operating systems like Apple Car Play and Android Car Play. So you can add new applications that you want to use in your car. Also, there are applications for Legacy Mode and Racing Mode which I will mention later.
The left gauge is showing the battery level and the battery range. The right gauge is showing the speed and the gear. In the middle, it shows the driving mode that you are in -DNA Race- special to Alfa Romeo. And the regeneration/power bar showing the battery consumption.
We used the three gauges in the interior as digital display screens to show secondary information.
In the sports mode, the gauges are showing performance related information such as G-meter, chronometer and the battery regenerated during the last trip.
In the eco mode, the gauges are showing battery related information such as consumption level, weather and the information about the last trip.
Giovanni and Sofia newly married couple and they are very passionate about racing. They take their Alfa Romeo Connubio to the track. Sofia does better time than Giovanni in the track. Giovanni gets really jealous. After Sophia goes to sleep, he secretly starts practicing his racing skills using the Legacy Mode in the car. He is obsessed with racing. While he’s watching racing videos on Instagram, he sees the new wearable technology that makes you a better race driver in the track. The smart racing shoes and the diminished reality racing helmet. He immediately orders them. The next track day, he creates his own racing line using the shoes. And with the help of the racing helmet, he does a better time. But still, Sophia is better than him.
The car has the Legacy Mode that teaches the user to become a better race driver. The legendary Alfa Romeo driver Niki Lauda is your virtual racing coach. He assesses your driving skills and makes recommendations for you.
Giovanni is a typical newbie. He is very competitive but he lacks technique. Niki Lauda advises him to practice his left-foot braking skills. He walks him through the process, scores him and gives him pro tips.
Using the smart racing shoes, Giovanni creates his own racing line. And when he is in the track, he activates the track map which shows his own racing line. It shows the note that he took right before the turn.
Giovanni is obsessed with improving his racing. While he’s watching racing videos on Instagram,. While exploring the @alfaromeofficial page, he sees the new wearable technology that makes you a better race driver in the track. The smart racing shoes and the diminished reality racing helmet.
Pronto Pista means “track ready” in Italian. They are the smart motorsport shoes which the user can wear during the track walk. Using the mobile app he can create his own racing line. Later during the track, the shoes will give him tactile feedback telling him when to brake and when to throttle.
Create your own racing experience
The smart shoes have the advanced GPS technology which allows the user to create his own racing line during the track walk. It walks the user through the process. It asks to share his location information and shows the track that he is in. He can see the track information and the racing lines created by the other race drivers. Also he can create his own racing line by walking the track and he can add notes so he can see them during the race. When he is done, it just syncs with the infotainment Racing App.
There is a lot of examples of Augmented Reality projects showing the driver information on the windshield. I believe it can be distracting for a race driver. Especially when there is too much information. So I was trying to show less and less information which led me to the idea of Diminished Reality racing helmet. Instead of adding more stuff to your reality, it subtracts stuff from you reality and gives the driver a broader vision. That’s why we named it Visione Corsa means “race vision” in Italian.
This is what the driver sees without the helmet.
This is what the driver sees when he puts on the helmet. It diminishes the hard top, A-pillars, fenders and the interior of the car gets simplified.
The user still needs to see the critical information. Instead of showing the tire temperature on the screen, he sees the hot tire information in its actual position.
The user does not have to see the “cruising mode” cluster anymore. He needs to see a different kind of information. The helmet shows the user the “race mode cluster”.
Race mode cluster
Even milliseconds matter during the race so the user will not be able to look at the instrument cluster for a long time. But he can watch it with his peripheral vision. The race mode cluster has a symmetrical design. The left side shows the regenerative braking bar and it feeds the battery level as the driver is slowing down or braking. And the right side shows the power bar and it feeds the speed as the user is throttling. And at the bottom, there’s racing related information such as position, time, and laps.
Exterior digital display
The smart surface is showing the charging battery information on the exterior so the user does not have to go to his mobile app or start the car to see the battery level and how much time left.
The user swipes right on the smart surface to open the trunk of the car.