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Whether you’re driving to your shift, dealing with congestion during the evening rush hour, or driving hundreds of kilometers per week for your job, some drives are more stressful than others. Why not use this time to make your journey as pleasant as possible in line with your specific needs? That’s precisely what we aim to do with comfort control and the ENERGIZING COACH.
Together with my colleagues, I’ve been working on this project for almost two years, and I’m glad that we’ll soon reach the finish line with the launch of the new GLE. The idea behind the project is actually simple. If we know how the driver feels, we can recommend the appropriate ENERGIZING COMFORT functions that already exist in the vehicle — for example, combinations of massage, ambient lighting, and scents.
Fitness data from your wrist to the car
Many people are wearing fitness wristbands today — wearables that measure various vital signs such as the wearer’s pulse, daily activities, and steps made while walking or running. To enable you to optimally react to these data, we are now bringing them into your car.
This is how it works: When the new GLE is launched on the market, just order a product of your choice at Garmin – provided that it supports stress and pulse measurement. For example, you might choose one of the smart watches Vivoactive 3 or Vivomove HR. In the future, you might also choose the Vivoactive 3 in a Mercedes-Benz design. If you then agree to release your data to the ENERGIZING COACH, the transfer can begin.
The ENERGIZING COACH uses the data of your wearable, and we save this data in an algorithm. The data is then used to calculate the optimal functions that are appropriate for you. For example, if you’ve had a long day and you’re rather tired, the ENERGIZING COACH will recommend a revitalizing program that will make you fit again through a finely balanced combination of puffs of air from the air conditioning system, the massage function, and control of the ambient lighting. Through a link with the Mercedes me App, you can even have your pulse displayed directly on the central display in your vehicle.
A flexible backend with the comfort control
We created all of these functions in several steps and by linking various systems inside and outside the vehicle. One of the elements of the system is the vehicle itself. This is where the ENERGIZING COACH and the driver learn from each other what they need and what they can do. The more often you use the COACH, the more precisely it can recommend to you, on the basis of experience, what you need in certain situations, such as stress or fatigue. The calculation of the programs does not take place in the vehicle backend, however, but on external servers. We considered this placement important, because it enables us to react to changing conditions and also to changes in the wearables market. For example, if there are new products or new parameters that can be measured, these features are repeatedly updated for your E-COACH.
Vehicle data, wearable data, and data about your surroundings flow into this backend through various channels. An algorithm that we have developed evaluates this data, rates its importance, and sends you a message in the vehicle at exactly the right moment. And don’t worry — we ensure that the recommendations are discreet, and of course we have kept data security in mind during the development process. No data will be used or saved by us without explicit authorization from the customer.
The technical architecture and the interplay between ENERGIZING COMFORT and the ENERGIZING COACH is also reflected in the way we worked together. Our project team consisted of people from various development, cooperation management, and product management departments, so we were able simply work together across departments. We quickly had all of the necessary colleagues, opinions, and expertise sitting around one table.
That might sound like an obvious approach, but in daily work having support really makes a difference. It helps you to actively participate in a project and develop a real sense of team spirit. For me it’s interesting to think about how different the implementation would have been if I had had other colleagues on my team.
Besides, of course it was also inspiring to see our competitors’ were approaching the topic “Well-being in the vehicle.” As far as I know, we are so far the first ones to submit an ENERGIZING package and actively link a wearable with a series-production vehicle. Of course we’re rather proud of that.
Learning from one another
In addition to the internal cooperation, it’s also been interesting to work with the external supplier of wearables — in our case, it was Garmin. In addition to the technical preparation, I had the opportunity to gain some insights into another company from a different sector. It was an enriching experience to see the needs of the Garmin colleagues I worked with and to find a shared level so that we could work together on an equal footing. It wasn’t always easy.
Garmin launches new products on the market every year, and that means its development work has to fast and with a strong focus on software. By contrast, our vehicles need longer development times. It was a huge challenge to find the right products that were in the planning stage at Garmin and would fit into our development cycles and vehicle launches, and then to link the right interfaces with the software.
At the same time, we learned a lot through our cooperation with Garmin. Our colleagues there showed us that you can’t meaningfully define software five years in advance. Instead, it’s all about flexibly seizing opportunities in order to react to changes. And I believe that this sharing and cooperation is a valuable contribution to the process of digitalization and rethinking within our Group. We have managed to be the first manufacturer to create an offer for customers that makes a drive in your car a genuine experience.
Incidentally, this function will be provided live to customers for the first time in the new GLE, which will be available starting in February 2019. In my opinion, this new function fits the new model perfectly. Is there anyone who wouldn’t like to step out of his or her SUV feeling refreshed and energized?