The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is organized every year at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and serves as a platform for companies to present new concepts and technology based products.
The CES was first held in New York, as a derivative of the Chicago Music Show – the main event where consumer electronics and a variety of the latest product technologies were displayed. Since then, it has hosted thousands of attendees and exhibitors with the latest concepts in design and developmental research.
At this year’s CES tech show, global electronics giant Sony raised thousands of eyebrows in awe, at the unveiling of their electric car concept called the Vision S.
The prototype has been designed and built to give the world a glimpse into their sensor and in-car entertainment technology. The Vision S has been engineered as a combination of Sony’s take on the safety, entertainment and adaptive capabilities of the modern electric vehicle. The company plans to make electric mobility comfortable and sustainable.
This sudden reveal of the company’s interest into automotive-diversification may come as a surprise to many, but those willing to look beyond the current roles of product conglomerates will clearly see the paradigm shift towards the integration of all life services and lifestyle products into singular interfaces as part of the quest for sustainability.
One can safely say that the possibilities of Sony joining the ranks of Tesla, Audi e-tron, BMWi, MG EVs and Tata Ziptron are fairly considerable and will lay the groundwork for other ventures into the Galaxy-sized space of the world EV market.
It would have been a much easier task to have presented just the bits including their working technology on a dummy car, but at their stature and expected level of execution, it was only fair of them to have engaged in the challenging task of building a functional electric car.
According to a senior official, the whole process of building the prototype taught them many things including the architecture of the automobile. This got them thinking of the possibilities of their technological advancements being applied to automobiles.
Sony worked in collaboration with automotive manufacturer Magna on the engineering aspect. They put in two 200kW motors – one in each of the rear axles, giving the car a zero to hundred time of just 4.5 seconds. It is claimed to have a top speed of two hundred and fifty kilometres an hour. The company sourced battery cells and had them packaged to resemble a full scale battery pack. Though a clear figure hasn’t been disclosed, the travel range is nearly five hundred kilometres on a full charge.
The company hasn’t confirmed if they would build the Vision S as their first production car. They however shared that the technology and powertrain arrangement on it can be used on a variety of vehicles including sedans, pickups, vans and SUVs.
The car flaunts quite a list of features – all of which come as a courtesy of Sony’s technological advancements in their field. The biggest centre of attention is the infotainment system and the user-interface design. A set of rectangular displays lined side-by-side, pan the entire dashboard from end to end, like an ultra-wide panoramic screen.
The central display and the passenger side unit are both touch-screens, providing access to the car’s media controls, vehicle settings, gaming and Sony owned movies and licensed music collection.
The display animations are crisp and cleverly designed, with simple swipe-patterns for various functions such as minimising a window or a particular screen, or sending them across to the passenger end. A trackpad mounted on the centre console acts as a secondary means of interaction with the UI. It can browse through menus and can identify basic gestures through touch. It also contains the access and control of the car’s climate control. Just below it is a dial that serves as a toggle for menu options and sound controller.
Rear seat passengers get their own touchscreen interfaces mounted on the back of the front seats. The Vision S has also been equipped with Sony’s ultra-high power speaker system to provide audio balance to the fantastic visual of the interior. Each of the headrests has their own dedicated speakers to allow passengers to watch their favourite videos.
The company has also infused the Vision S with their sophisticated camera-sensors, image sensors and others such as LiDAR, RADARs and ultrasonic, to tease at the endless possibilities of their usage in advanced driver assistance and autonomous driving.
Though the company has only presented the Vision S as a possible direction of thought, it will send a lot of players in the market back to the drawing board, at the sheer quality of Sony’s execution of the project.
Automobile manufacture is a giant ecosystem that includes all kinds of organisms, each with its own special traits and qualities. Though it may take Sony another set of years to finally come up with a production-spec car, one can’t wait eagerly enough.