Driving by feel

26.11.2020 | Author: Rüdiger Barth | Photos: Ghost PR

A portrait of the two founders of the start-up Ghost – feel it; Laura Bücheler on the left, Isabella Hillmer on the right.
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The start-up Ghost – feel it translates information from the navigation system into vibrations.

The desire to feel understood is a basic human need. That’s why it’s so nice when someone pats us on the back and says: It’ll be alright! Our cars, for example – because they probably know us even better than we know ourselves.

The standard has long been to get into our cars and drive off, steering the car to wherever we want to go. But people appreciate it when someone acknowledges their needs, ideally before they’ve even become aware of them themselves. For example, if your car knows where you want to go or how you’re doing before you do. “It sounds scary at first, but it works,” says Laura Bücheler. Since 2019, she and Isabella Hillmer have been developing systems that can do just that: read our situation. The “Startup Autobahn” innovation platform founded by Daimler AG works together with the two-woman start-up Ghost – feel it. “We know that people are overstretched these days and their heads are often full of a hundred thousand other things,” says Laura Bücheler.  Ghost – feel it shifts the communication between people and cars to a sense that is rarely activated in our everyday lives: the sense of touch. “These days, we’re supposed to be everywhere at once,” says Laura Bücheler. “Our consciousness is bombarded with stimuli and overwhelmed. By shifting communication to the subconscious, it can be processed more quickly and doesn’t have to compete with the other stimuli.” So we get in our car, and we sit behind the wheel, but we don’t steer. Instead, our cars can interact with our subconscious and steer us.

An illustration of the “Haptic Seat”, which shows how the data of the car are transmitted haptically to the driver.

The two women have developed a software that allows you to feel data from the navigation system. “What’s nice is that it enables a highly individualised driving experience because, in the future, for example, these vibration patterns could be coded differently for each driver with a personal key, creating a vibration pattern that is precisely matched to the driver,” says Laura Bücheler. To achieve this, small vibration motors are installed in the backrest of the driver’s seat. The data from the navigation system is transferred to these motors. The driver can then sense what the navigation system is communicating through the vibrations. Intuitive navigation is just one possible application of the programme. It can also detect whether the driver is nervous, tired, or unable to concentrate. The special thing about this type of feedback through vibration is intuition, says Laura Bücheler: “People have learned to turn around when someone taps them on the shoulder. We make use of this by designing the vibrations to imitate natural reflex patterns.”

An illustration of a prosthesis, showing how the sensory data of the prosthesis are transmitted to the user via the “Haptic Shirt”.

And that is the key to a human-machine relationship. In medicine, we know that people who suffer from nerve damage, perhaps in the hands or legs, become alienated from the extremities that they are no longer able to feel. Often, those affected even speak of the body part in the third person. This shows that we first have to feel something in order to accept it as having personal meaning. Seeing is not enough. They can still see their body parts, but they aren’t getting any more feedback. This intuitive feedback is also called biofeedback. If, on the other hand, we receive some biofeedback and our subconscious signals to us, “Ah yes, someone is reporting back,” then our brain recognises this as something that could belong to us. And in hard times, we are quite happy to have an unexpected friend.

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Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 26.11.2020.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.