Reading Week 20 May 2016

20 May 2016 | by Tom Phillips

Car design needs to have a context. Whether that's market trends in the here-and-now, or projections and predictions as to how people are going to travel around in the future, designers cannot – and must not – work in a vacuum.

But we also realise there is so much information flying around it's difficult to keep track and pick out the relevant things from the noise. With this in mind, we've rounded up some thought-provoking, inspiring and otherwise interesting stories we've read this week:

 

Reading Week 6

So far, Google has only shown this sketch of the Daydream hardware

Virtual reality takes centre stage
Google announced Daydream at its annual I/O developer conference. It's a hardware and software platform that forms the next step in Google's virtual reality thinking. Daydream comprises a high-end smartphone running a VR-enhanced version of Android, and a lightweight headset and remote control. It allows the user to watch YouTube videos, movies and games in VR, as well as use 3D versions of Street View and Google Maps. This video from CNET explains more:

Why is it significant? Because it'll join a rapidly expanding VR market that already includes Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive, with Sony's PlayStation VR going on sale in the autumn, when Daydream will appear. All huge brands with huge influence on consumer expectation about what technology should offer.

 

Reality. Augmented
So what if we take the nascent virtual reality idea and impose it on today's reality? That's exactly what design consultant Keiichi Matsuda has done in this concept film.

Called Hyper-Reality, the video “presents a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged.” Set in the city of Medellín, Colombia, the video's visuals are initially overwhelming, but somewhat disturbing in how quickly you get used to being given so much more information. No wonder Facebook, Google et al are moving in this direction:

 

Reading Week 3

Uber's Ford Fusion hybrid complete with sensor array

Self-driving cars in Steel City
Uber is continuing its work on driverless cars, and making what it perceives to be the weakest link in its ride-sharing experience redundant. Its Ford Fusion hybrid has hit the streets of Pittsburgh, collecting mapping data and testing its self-driving capabilities, as the firm bids to one day offer autonomous taxis as a replacement for car ownership. Uber's self-driving car division has been up and running in Pittsburgh since January 2015, having entered into a close but complicated partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).

 

Reading Week 4

Album cover for Island Life, photographed by Goude

Amazing Grace
Jamaican-American singer, model and all-round force of nature, Grace Jones, celebrated her 68th birthday this week – the perfect excuse to revisit her indelible contribution to car advertising, and this 1985 ad for the Citroën CX, directed by Jones' partner at the time, Jean-Paul Goude:

 

Blog of the week: RCA Vehicle Design Lab
The Royal College of Art's current transportation design students have a Tumblr blog that showcases their work, and gives a preview of what to expect at their end-of-year degree show in June. Sketches of vehicles for brands like Audi, Infiniti and Tesla are all featured, and we look forward to seeing the finished articles on 23 June. Until then: