A consistent hobgoblin of advancing automobile technology is the difficulty owners have learning how all that new technology works and how to use it. Confusion about safety systems and warnings is more dangerous than not being able to figure out how to program the entertainment system.
Eliminating that confusion has led to a partnership between consumer data firm J.D. Power and Harman International, a subsidiary of Korean electronics giant Samsung. Harman, probably best known in the United States for its audio systems (under the Harman/Kardon brand), also designs and builds connected car systems, enterprise automation solutions, and Internet of Things services.
The partnership announced Monday aims at bridging the gap between a leading collector of consumer insights about cars to help automakers understand how their new products are meeting customer needs.
J.D. Power Senior Vice-President Doug Betts said:
Having been on the OEM side for most of my career, I know the industry has been looking for this kind of solution for a long time. It was easy to dream, but getting it done takes a skill set that no single company has. The alliance of our two companies can credibly deliver the dream of merging consumer and vehicle data to provide a clear view of cause and effect.
Harman Chief Technology Officer Sanjay Dhawan added:
J.D. Power has the most thorough understanding of automotive consumer satisfaction of any company in the industry. With HARMAN’s connected car, software and integration expertise, we are set to realize the exciting potential of connected cars, including enhanced safety, greater performance and more immersive and personalized experiences.
The partnership has its work cut out for it. Surveys of U.S. drivers have shown plenty of skepticism about autonomous driving technology. A report published in April from AAA encourages automakers and technology providers to adopt a “common sense, common nomenclature and classification system, and similar performance characteristics of future autonomous vehicle technologies” as a way to reduce the complexity of safety systems. One AAA executive noted, “Learning how to operate a vehicle equipped with semi-autonomous technology is challenging enough without having to decipher the equipment list …”
That’s the problem J.D. Power and Harman plan to address. It’s a problem that needs solving as more autonomous driving features make their way into consumers’ cars.