Hyundai and Kia have wrapped up the ‘2023 Idea Festival’ with flying colors, a testament to their commitment to bringing employee creativity to life. The Idea Festival, a beacon of creative research culture since its inception in 2010, has reached its 14th iteration this year. It’s hailed as a unique event, offering a platform where ideas not only emerge but are brought to fruition.
The theme for this year’s Idea Festival was ‘Technology with a Heart that Changes the World.’ It saw an outpouring of ideas linking future mobility technologies with aiding the transportation disadvantaged and socially vulnerable. The competition, which began in May, saw 15 teams making it to the finals. The final round comprised two segments - ‘Manufacturing’, where ideas were physically realized, and ‘Scenario’, where solutions were presented through storytelling. Hyundai and Kia provided all finalist teams with production funds and facilities, and each team spent five months turning their ideas into tangible prototypes and narratives.
The finals held in September at the Namyang Research Institute were a showcase of ingenious ideas, featuring contributions from teams as far as China and the Shanghai Technical Research Institute, who participated through video presentations. The jury evaluated the projects based on originality and completeness, with an additional consideration of YouTube ‘likes’ to determine the final rankings. So, what groundbreaking technologies bagged awards at this year’s Idea Festival? Here are the innovative and empathetic mobility technologies crafted by the inventive minds at Hyundai and Kia.
Daisy’ emerged from the idea of ‘Easier Bus Boarding for the Visually Impaired.’ In bustling areas like Seoul’s Gangnam Station, where crowds and bus lines abound, it’s no easy feat for the visually impaired to board a bus independently. However, with Daisy, things become more manageable. This system, comprising a cane and a ‘Beacon’ for location tracking, simplifies the process. Speaking the desired bus number into the cane sends a signal to the bus’s beacon. Once the beacon responds, the cane calculates the relative distance and direction to the bus and guides the user through vibration patterns. Furthermore, bus drivers can verify the boarding of visually impaired passengers through the beacon. Daisy, named after the flower symbolizing natural beauty, makes everyday mobility ‘Day-Easy.’
‘Life Delivery’ proposes a novel application of Hyundai Motor Group’s electric vehicles as ‘Mobile Dialysis Units’, leveraging their strengths. With over 100,000 dialysis patients in Korea needing societal and infrastructural support, those in areas without dialysis centers face the burden of traveling for treatment. ‘Life Delivery’ suggests a solution using the spacious interiors and V2L capabilities of Hyundai vehicles, specifically the Ioniq 5, to transport dialysis equipment directly to patients. Besides providing space for medical equipment and comfortable resting areas for patients, the Ioniq 5 can also supply power for dialysis and emergency treatments through V2L. The idea extends to facilitating consultations through video conferencing and sharing treatment scenarios with hospitals.
For hearing-impaired drivers, locations requiring intercom communication, like drive-thrus, pose significant challenges. ‘Your Eyes, Ears, and Mouth’ introduces a novel communication method utilizing digital side mirror cameras and monitors. This feature converts external voices into subtitles displayed on the digital side mirror monitor and reorients the camera to recognize sign language from the driver. Utilizing deep learning for sign language recognition and a touch-screen interface for written communication, the system can translate recognized content into audio output. This innovation enhances the driving experience by integrating new functionalities into the car’s existing hardware.
‘Hyundai Orbit’ is an ingenious application of autonomous driving technology for maritime safety. Responding to the challenging accessibility of marine and summer water accidents, Hyundai Orbit uses buoyant spheres equipped with batteries, GPS, and propellers to rescue individuals in distress. The Orbits can be deployed in hazardous zones at beaches to prevent access and rapidly respond to emergencies, thereby enhancing safety during the busy summer months.
‘Thank Goodness’ is a safety technology idea for both pedestrians and drivers, predicting the location of pedestrians in blind spots using UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) communication. In South Korea, a significant proportion of vulnerable road user fatalities occur while walking, particularly incidents involving pedestrians darting out from between parked cars. This technology enables vehicles to detect signals from wearable devices carried by pedestrians, triggering hazard lights on stationary vehicles and relaying signals to moving vehicles when a pedestrian suddenly emerges. It alerts drivers as pedestrians approach and can even initiate emergency braking if necessary.
Imagine enhancing your camping experience in extreme weather with your car’s air conditioning or heater. ‘Vehicle To Go’ takes this a step further by connecting these systems to a hose adapter, allowing their use outside the vehicle. This idea capitalizes on the superior performance of automotive air conditioners and heaters, designed to counter external environmental factors like solar heat through car windows. This adaptable system could be invaluable for outdoor activities like camping, providing air conditioning for outdoor workers’ rest areas, and even supporting firefighters and paramedics during breaks.
‘Comfortable World for Expectant Mothers’ is a dedicated car rental service for pregnant women. Driving remains a necessity during pregnancy, but adapting existing vehicles can be burdensome due to the temporary nature of the need and the requirement to restore the car to its original state. This service proposes vehicles with special features like assistance seats for easy boarding and alighting, movable seat belts that extend from the shoulder to buckle at the thigh, and hidden steering wheels to reduce discomfort during entry and exit. Collaborating with essential facilities like maternity clinics, public health centers, and postnatal care centers could make driving far more comfortable for expectant mothers.
Mobility is a critical aspect of life for the disabled, as outings require considerable time and planning. Waiting times for disabled-accessible taxis can exceed three hours, and acquiring electric wheelchairs can be way too costly. ‘Snow White and the Quick Fairy’ proposes a solution for short-distance travel, like from home to the subway station, by connecting shared kick-scooters with wheelchairs for easy and comfortable movement. The service also includes updating maps with wheelchair-friendly routes, devoid of stairs and curbs, to enhance mobility for the disabled.
‘Drunk Hunter’ is an AI-based proactive technology for predicting and preventing drunk driving. By comparing the driver’s usual driving patterns and real-time behavior, it predicts the likelihood of drunk driving based on destination and dynamic state information. If alcohol consumption is suspected, it not only alerts the driver but also contacts the police for preemptive action and warns nearby pedestrians to prevent drunk driving accidents.
What if your car could detect a crime and immediately alert the police? ‘H-SOS’ is an idea for building a social safety net to prevent crimes and accidents in blind spots. Upon recognizing sounds of distress like screams or explosions, the car activates headlights, hazard lights, and the horn, and begins recording. The recorded footage and vehicle location are then sent to the police for rapid response. Additionally, in cases of severe crimes or disasters, emergency messages are sent to nearby vehicle owners, as staying away from the scene is often the safest course of action.
As the ideas we’ve explored demonstrate, mobility, when harnessed correctly, can have a profoundly positive impact. And this isn’t just a vision for the distant future. The ingenious ideas unearthed at the Hyundai-Kia Idea Festival are making their way to their customers through various channels, including patenting, mass production integration, and even as spin-offs into startups. ‘Bi-directional Multi Console’ featured in the new Santa Fe, for example, originated from the ‘multi-functional Console’, an outstanding award winner at the 2021 Idea Festival. This is a clear indication that these ideas are not just conceptual but are indeed transforming our lives, making them more comfortable and safer. We eagerly anticipate the arrival of more such transformative ideas, poised to revolutionize our daily experiences.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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