• Does Kia’s View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?

Mood-reading robots and electric four-wheeled cycles are just a few highlights from the Kia booth at CES

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show has now officially reached full chat, and many of the major automakers are there to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and concepts. Kia is among them, arriving in Vegas to debut its vision for an autonomous, intelligent, highly connected transportation system that can understand your moods and adapt itself accordingly.

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Does Kia's View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
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While some automakers are busy debuting cars, Kia is in Vegas with an interactive exhibit that shows the South Korean automaker’s vision for an autonomous, electrified future.

The new technology concepts are making the rounds in something Kia is calling the “Space of Emotive Driving” exhibit.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kia actually collaborated with MIT to develop some of this technology, so it’s not just some good ideas dreamed up by a team of marketing people - these concepts might actually have some legs in the real world.

The most obvious (and relevant) features are the autonomous drive systems, but Kia is also debuting a few ideas that should keep the passengers occupied while the robotic chauffeur takes care of the driving. The idea is that while you are taken to your intended destination, you’ll have the opportunity to gesture your way to educational media, entertainment, relaxation, and productivity. It’s something Kia calls R.E.A.D., describing it as a vast technology suite, designed for the “post-autonomous driving era.”

Here’s how Kia puts it - “R.E.A.D. System is the automotive industry’s first technology converging human senses-oriented in-cabin environment control and AI-based emotional intelligence.”

Does Kia's View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
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R.E.A.D. stands for Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving. Rather than your basic AI assistant, R.E.A.D. can read actually your emotions and adjust its settings to suit your needs.

This is accomplished using an array of sensors that monitor various parameters, such as facial expression, heart rate, and electrodermal activity (basically sweat levels). Deep learning then takes a baseline reading for the individual passenger and adjusts itself moving forward to better suit that individual.

“The system enables continuous communication between driver and vehicle through the unspoken language of ‘feeling,’ thereby providing an optimal, human-sense oriented space for the driver in real-time,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of Research & Development Division of Hyundai Motor Group.

R.E.A.D. can also make personalized route choice suggestions based on the driver’s mood, and even adjust the in-cabin fragrance to match your mood - whatever that might entail.

Does Kia's View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
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While it might sound creepy to have some unblinking virtual eye monitoring your moods, it could be helpful to have a system that knows your preferences without any inputs from the user.

Speaking of inputs, Kia is also debuting something called V-Touch, a new virtual-touch gesture control technology concept that uses a visual camera to record the movements of the passengers’ eyes and fingertips. It’s a bit like the freestanding digital interface that Tom Cruise uses in the film Minority Report.

Through this system, the user can operate various features, with visual feedback fed through the onboard heads-up display. Users can adjust the HVAC system, interface with the infotainment system, play games, search the Internet, and adjust the cabin lighting.

The Kia booth will also showcase a four-person “workspace” that simulates attendees taking the role of a “Kia executive” getting ready for a business trip. As such, attendees use the V-Touch gesture control system to do stuff like open emails and manage their busy schedule. The simulation also includes a live video conference using the heads-up display.

Does Kia's View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
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Another neat feature is the music-response system, which sends vibrations through the seats that sync up the song playing through the infotainment system. Alternatively, the seats can be set with a massage system, or sync up with the driver assist system for haptic feedback.

Finally, Kia is debuting something it’s calling the “SEED” car, which is offered as a “potential solution for urban micro-mobility.”

This vehicle is essentially a four-wheel electric “cycle,” which comes with a range of 100 km (62 mph).

The SEED is motivated by a pedal-electric hybrid system, wherein the rider must still pedal, but the job is made easier thanks to copious electric assistance as well.

The SEED is designed for the urban landscape and making the “final mile” of a journey, and is transported inside the “BIRD Car,” which is an autonomous shuttle to get the SEED car within 62 miles of the intended destination.

Is This Really Where We’re Headed?

Does Kia's View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
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That remains to be seen, but there’s plenty of interesting ideas to pick through here.

The autonomous drive systems are really what underpin the whole thing, and from there, the AI-driven interactions Kia has outlined can actually take shape.

In truth, the technology to make these things a possibility is definitely close, but it’s still gonna take some massaging to get it into the hands of everyday folks.

The SEED and BIRD car concepts look like the least likely possibilities in the mix here. It’s an interesting idea, especially for those individuals that find it hard to park close to home or work on a regular basis, but in terms of making it a reality - we’re not convinced.

What do you think about Kia’s CES concepts? Let us know in the comments section below

Further Reading

Kia Aims to Offer Connected Cars in All Segments; Promises 16 New Electrified Vehicles by 2025
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Kia Aim To Offer Connected Cars In All Segments; Promises 16 New Electrified Vehicles By 2025

2019 Hyundai Elevate Concept
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Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Elevate Concept

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
About the author

Kia to unveil new tech with interactive ‘Space of Emotive Driving’ exhibit
R.E.A.D. System is the automotive industry’s first technology converging human senses-oriented in-cabin environment control and AI-based emotional intelligence
Virtual touch-type gesture control and music-response vibration seats part of R.E.A.D. System
Kia presents SEED Car, a potential solution for urban micro-mobility
Kia video and news from CES 2019 available at www.kia.com/worldwide/CES2019

Kia Motors is previewing a range of new technologies developed for the post-autonomous driving era at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019, to be held in Las Vegas from January 8 to 11.

Building on the the brand’s ‘Beyond Autonomous Driving’ vision for connected vehicles presented at CES 2018, Kia is looking ahead to a time when autonomous driving has become the norm with an interactive ‘Space of Emotive Driving’ exhibit at this year’s show.

Introducing ‘Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving’ (R.E.A.D.)

In a future where vehicles have the potential to drive themselves, Kia is laying the foundations for major technological development to improve the human mobility experience. Central to the presentation of this ‘Space of Emotive Driving’ vision at CES 2019 is Kia’s new Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) System – a world-first emotional AI-based optimized and interactive in-cabin space centered on human senses.

The R.E.A.D. System can optimize and personalize a vehicle cabin space by analyzing a driver’s emotional state in real-time through AI-based bio-signal recognition technology. The technology monitors a driver’s emotional state using sensors to read their facial expressions, heart rate and electrodermal activity. It then tailors the interior environment according to its assessment – potentially altering conditions relating to the five senses within the cabin, creating a more joyful mobility experience. AI deep-learning technology enables the system to establish a baseline in user behavior, and then identify patterns and trends to customize the cabin accordingly.

Mr. Albert Biermann, President and Head of Research & Development Division of Hyundai Motor Group said, “Kia considers the interactive cabin a focal point for future mobility, and the R.E.A.D. System represents a convergence of cutting-edge vehicle control technology and AI-based emotional intelligence. The system enables continuous communication between driver and vehicle through the unspoken language of ‘feeling’, thereby providing an optimal, human-sense oriented space for the driver in real-time”

The R.E.A.D. System is revealed alongside V-Touch – a world-first virtual touch-type gesture control technology. V-Touch employs a 3D camera to monitor users’ eyes and fingertip, allowing occupants to manage several in-car features via an unobtrusive head-up display. Through simple finger gestures, all vehicle occupants can make changes to the cabin environment, including lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) and entertainment systems, eliminating the need for buttons or touch screen.

Another feature of the innovative R.E.A.D. System is Kia’s music-response vibration seats, where occupants can ‘feel’ their favorite songs as well as listen to them. The sensory-based signal processing technology adapts seat vibrations according to sound frequencies of the music being played. The vibration seats can also be set to massage mode to increase cabin comfort, as well as enhancing safety by providing haptic warnings from the vehicle’s advanced driver-assist systems.

Some of the technical expertise required to make this demo possible arose out of Kia’s research collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab’s Affective Computing Group as part of Kia’s Media Lab membership.

Kia giving CES visitors an opportunity to experience R.E.A.D. technology

Kia will have specially-designed experiential modules installed at its CES booth to demonstrate the potential of the R.E.A.D. System. For the first time ever, the public will be able to experience vehicle technology that recognizes their physiological emotions based on facial expressions, electrodermal activity, and heart rate. Visitors to CES will be able to witness the sensory controls react in real-time to their changing emotional state.

‘R.E.A.D. Me’ is a one-person cockpit that analyzes the ‘driver’s’ emotional state and creates a ‘space mood’ according to its judgment, using R.E.A.D. technologies such as facial expression recognition and vibration seats. This tailored environment will include bespoke sounds and fragrances to best suit the occupant’s current disposition.

‘R.E.A.D. Now’ is a two-person cockpit simulating a ‘Las Vegas autonomous tour car’ that will make suggestions on route choice and in-car entertainment based on an analysis of the driver’s mood. The occupants will be invited to use the V-Touch gesture control system to play games, select music genres, modify the cabin environment and browse the internet for local information.

‘R.E.A.D. Motion’ is a four-person cockpit which simulates a ‘mobile workspace’ that is expected to be a key benefit of life with autonomous vehicles. Occupants will be invited to take on the role of a ‘Kia executive’ preparing for a business trip, using V-Touch to check their schedule and meeting minutes, open emails and so on. The long-distance functionality of the system means occupants can take control of the R.E.A.D. Motion cockpit controls from a distance. The experience will finish with a live conference call on the head-up display.

Kia shows vision for future smart-city mobility

Kia is also presenting a potential solution for smart-city mobility at CES 2019 with its ‘SEED Car’ concept. The ‘SEED Car’ is a four-wheel electric cycle with a range of 100 km (62 miles) based on a pedal-electric hybrid system, requiring pedal input from the driver but with a high degree of electric power assistance to make it effortless.

The concept has been designed to make urban driving easy, fun and safe, while exploring how Kia could make the final mile of any journey possible with a personal mobility device.

For longer journeys, the ‘SEED Car’ is housed within the ‘BIRD Car’ – an autonomous shuttle vehicle capable of travelling further than the four-wheel cycle’s range capabilities. Once within 100km of its final urban destination, the ‘SEED Car’ is ‘dispersed’ to complete its journey.

Interactive tours of Kia CES booth for in-depth understanding of new technologies

For an enhanced visitor experience, Kia will operate 15-minute ‘Docent Tours’ at regular intervals at the booth throughout the duration of CES 2019. The guided tour will give attendees a more in-depth understanding of the new technologies on display.

For more information, please visit www.kia.com/worldwide/CES2019.

Visit Kia Motors at CES 2019 on Tuesday, January 8 through Friday, January 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), North Hall Booth #7029.

* Hyundai Motor Group is a global corporation that has created a value chain based on automobiles, steel, and construction and includes logistics, finance, IT and service. With about 250,000 employees worldwide, the group’s automobile brands include Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.

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