Even in “old cars”, drivers want connectivity – Osman Dumbuya, founder of Incari
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Restomods are becoming an increasingly popular way to keep classic cars on the road, without harming the environment.
However, as drivers trade pistons and carburetors for outlets and chargers, they must find a way to present their battery information in the dashboard.
Berlin-based tech company Incari believes its sleek new human-machine interfaces (HMIs) can bring classic cars into the 21st century without losing their 20th-century charm.
Auto Futures spoke to Incari Founder and Managing Director Osman Dumbuya to find out more.
“Creating a retrofit HMI for a car like the Fiat 500 is unique and requires many design ideas to integrate modern technology into a car while retaining its iconic spirit of the past,” says Dumbuya.
Incari, however, doesn’t just develop plug-and-play infotainment systems for vintage cars. Instead, it’s looking to develop software solutions that could offer all cars – not just old ones – improved connectivity and usability.
“Incari offers the Incari Studio software platform. It is dedicated to the development of the HMI. Incari Studio deliberately focuses on essential functionality and offers a top-notch solution for interface designers,” says Dumbuya from Sierra Leone.
“Incari Studio was created to reduce the time between design creation, engineering and deployment in the car. It offers the same tool for each team allowing the same language and no interruption in the process”, continues Dumbuya.
“Incari allows teams to reuse the same logic for multiple projects, reducing redundancy. Similar projects have shown that Incari can reduce development time by approximately 70%.
“Incari Studio is designed for the next generation of hardware and open to third-party applications. It is a 3D-based solution allowing the integration of a multitude of new technologies such as augmented reality.
HMIs and augmented reality may seem a bit complex but, according to Dumbuya, the reality is much simpler.
“An HMI is a system through which a person interacts with a controller. These range from a simple button to control a machine, from the keyboard of a personal computer, to complex screen interfaces, which allow the machine to communicate with a human. A classic embedded system is an HMI, but a new generation of digital HMIs allows for much more control, functionality and customization. »
But what about those old cars? Partnering with Strate School of Design Bangalore to help design the systems and French restomodding company Design 1880, Incari developed its new system for the Fiat 500.
“Incari wants to support a new generation of UX/UI students and give them the perfect tool to bring their bravest ideas to life,” says Dumbuya.
“This is how the collaboration with Strate School of Design Bangalore started. Take an idea for an innovative project that is different from all other user interface (UI) school projects and realize it in a noticeably short time. »
“The collaboration gives Design 1880 many innovative design ideas and perspective while testing them live using the capabilities of Incari Studio, which allows you to modify design ideas without having to rewrite the underlying code.
“We believe the best way to learn is to work on a real project. Design 1880 decided to give these students a chance and were impressed with the proposals they made and the speed with which they completed them.
The Fiat 500 has been equipped with a digital display and can be easily connected to the smartphone and a special app. The circular digital display replaces the analog speedometer and can be connected to a smartphone, while providing information relevant to the driving experience.
The screen allows for example to check the battery consumption and can also be personalized. This takes the user experience to a new level while preserving the spirit of the iconic car.
The design style of the new speedo falls somewhere between skeuomorphism and flat design. It has an old fashioned color palette but its style is modern.
“By converting a conventional car into an electric vehicle, the driver needs to have access to information such as battery charge and energy consumption,” says Dumbuya.
“We integrate this information on modern interfaces while preserving the spirit of the classic cockpit.”
But, as always with the restoration and modernization of classic cars, some purists will no doubt be angry to see the lovely classic Fiat fitted with a new screen and electric motor.
“Many people want to enjoy the beauty of their classic cars and be durable on the road at the same time. If you want to go for more durability, there is no solution that better preserves the heritage of the car than the ours,” says Dumbuya.
“We integrate the necessary additional information, such as the battery charge level, with displays in the classic cockpit design concept. Others simply integrate an additional standard 7-inch display which does not match the look in any way classic car.
“Even though it is an ‘old car’, the user is now used to having the connectivity and services of a smartphone; bringing this technology also into a classic car is what the end user is asking for. »
However, Incari’s plans don’t just stop at installing new screens on old cars.
“The modernization initiative is one of Incari’s four pillars for the future,” says Dumbuya.
“The Incari Studio software solution is set to become the definitive software for HMI development worldwide. In the automotive and mobility sector… but also in other industries, in particular medicine or for smart home solutions.
“It’s not just about optimizing the screens, but about exploiting all the possibilities offered by technologies such as augmented reality, voice control and others. Incari enables businesses and consumers to take full advantage of these capabilities. »
The company also plans to develop and launch a “European operating system” that will prioritize privacy and data sovereignty, while providing secure communication and engendering a “European sense of self-confidence”.
Smartphones and tablets built by Incari are also apparently in the plans for the future, along with a decentralized Incari operating system.
Incari has also developed the HMI for the upcoming Piëch Automotive GT and an electrified version of the iconic DMC Delorean.
“Using conventional development methods, changing the design of a single element often takes up to 14 days and involves a five-figure sum. With Incari Studio, changes can be made in minutes,” says Dumbuya.
“Without the use of Incari Studio, a development such as the HMI for the Piëch GT would have mobilized a dozen experts from a wide variety of fields for more than twelve months. With our software, the Piëch GT project was completed by three creative people in just six months.
For now, however, screens will have to be adapted to older cars. But, if the work on the Fiat 500 is to be believed, electrified classic cars are in good hands.