User Centered Design Raises the Bar
Chrysler / FCA
Sundberg Ferar assisted Chrysler in developing the Uconnect infotainment platform. SF worked with Chrysler to create a single, scalable UI architecture for implementation on a wide range of FCA branded vehicles (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, Fiat, and Lancia). In this effort SF shared responsibility for the creation of both Uconnect’s interaction architecture and graphics with Chrysler’s HMI engineering team. During the course of the project SF lead the design effort in the Chrysler design studio and served as the primary design interface between Chrysler design and their tier one supply partners.
2008-2012 was a critical period for Chrysler, and a pivotal moment for automotive UI design. In the grips of the worst economic downturn in generations, Chrysler also had urgent need for a new, highly integrated approach to in-car infotainment.
The recent introduction of the iPhone had reprioritized the public’s expectations, and Chrysler was faced with a ground-up rethink.
SF was brought in to function as an extension of Chrysler’s design office and to lead the project’s design in concert with their HMI engineering team. The resulting Uconnect system itself is a framework of interaction that can be reconfigured for use by a variety of brands, scaled for a range of option levels, and tailored to model-specific screen sizes and aspect ratios. As such it is a true multi-generational product architecture, and persists to this day in FCA’s product portfolio. SF’s contributions to the system helped it to set new industry benchmarks for multi-modal control, usability and brand integration. SF’s blend of design and human factors acumen allowed us to provide critical design leadership and integration between the HMI and tier one development teams. Initially Uconnect focused on the Chrysler and Dodge brands, but SF also developed iterations introduced through Maserati and Fiat. SF also lead the design team’s efforts toward adaptation the of Garmin navigation system for use in Uconnect, and established new industry benchmarks for infotainment-cluster integration. The core interaction architecture of Uconnect has subsequently been extended across all of FCA’s brands.
Chrysler Corporation: Uconnect™ Infotainment Interface
“The system fitted to the Dodge Charger ranks highest in owner satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems and performs particularly well in the navigation display screen, ease of use and speed of system factors”
Everyone can use Uconnect… Whether you’re a tech-savy teen, a frazzled parent, or a doting retiree, Uconnect is designed first and foremost for usability.
The user is the single most indispensable part of the system.
Ever higher levels of technology create myriad opportunities to rethink what products can do and how we might interact with them. Consideration and accommodation of human needs are critical aspects of new technology achieving its potential. The Chrysler Uconnect system is a testament to the principles of user-centered design, and speaks to the primacy of inclusiveness and human performance as key attributes of technology-based products.
The Uconnect system was introduced in 2011, and its interaction architecture was migrated to the Android platform in 2020, ensuring its place in the FCA-Stellantis product portfolio for years to come. Initial development of the system was supported by a framework of over 3,000 individual use cases. It has been extended across all of FCA’s brands, and has received more awards than any other automotive infotainment system, including being named the first ever AOL Autos’ Technology Winner in 2013 as well as Infotainment of the Year by Digital Trends in 2015.
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