Lextant Interview Series

The focus on connected solutions accelerates as organizations worldwide awaken to an increasing customer demand for enhanced product and service experiences delivered through digital brand touchpoints.  

How do we humanize these experiences?  How do we build trust, confidence, and lifelong customer relationships through digital moments?  And, most importantly, how do we build organizations capable of sustained experience-centered practice and delivery?

Lextant’s Experience Design Leaders series engages with groundbreaking individuals to understand what it takes to build customer-led organizations.  In these hour-long dialogues, we’ll discuss the new challenges in delivering digital customer experiences and how these innovative leaders overcome them:   How to gain management trust and buy-in to user-centered approaches.   How to align and shift company culture and impact decision-making.  How to mature the people, processes, and technologies for a scalable design capability.

Chris Rockwell, Lextant’s founder, will be your host for this series.

Join us Wednesday, May 12 at 11:00 a.m. EST for a conversation with Heidi Munc, Vice President of User Experience & Human-Centered Practices at Nationwide Insurance.

Register Here

Simplicity trumps sophistication with automotive HMI

It appears larger car displays are inevitable. Mercedes-Benz attracted significant attention at the 2021 CES with its new MBUX Hyperscreen, a full width dashboard display, and almost all future concept vehicles have their own versions of super-wide high-definition displays, combined with extensive head up displays (HUDs).

Although many consumers are excited by how these bigger displays look in the car, there are real concerns that they will increase driver distraction. Larger and more distributed displays have the potential to create a better and safer driving experience, but it will require the right design principles to accomplish this.

Mercedes MBUX Hyperscreen
In-vehicle displays are getting bigger, showing more information than ever before (Pictured: MBUX Hyperscreen)

A technology-centered approach to design typically starts by proving a technology—such as a full width display—is possible before necessarily thinking about how it’s really going to impact the user. In contrast, a user-centered design process starts with experiences and then leverages technology to provide for user needs. A foundational understanding of how people think, act, and feel is crucial for creating the right solutions.

Just as brilliant engineers and designers can create cutting-edge technologies, brilliant social scientists have made groundbreaking discoveries about how humans experience the world. Studies in sensation and perception have led to important theories like selective attention, situational awareness, signal detection theory and inattentional blindness, providing insights about how people see and interact with the world around them.

Most people are surprised to find out that we don’t view the world like a video or photograph, but instead “sample” parts of the scene and let our minds fill in the blanks based on what we are focused on—or distracted by. The famous “Invisible Gorilla” test illustrates just how incomplete our perceptions can be. The test shows how, when focused deeply on one activity, it can be easy to disregard other things going on in the surrounding environment.

The collaboration of forward-thinking engineers, designers and social scientists holds the key to designing displays that will lead to safer, more satisfying driving experiences

Applying this thinking to in-vehicle displays, the potential opportunities and pitfalls for their design become clear. What is shown on displays becomes part of the world the driver sees (or fails to see). When information is projected on the windscreen, does that get “sampled” while a nearby pedestrian goes unnoticed? When a text alert pops up in the cluster, does the driver notice the dog in the road? Do redundant visual cues on displays take attention away from other important things?

Lextant recently conducted a review of an augmented reality display in which five different arrows in the visual field all point where to turn. It revealed that as visual fields become more complex, it is harder to notice important information. The collaboration of forward-thinking engineers, designers and social scientists holds the key to designing displays that will lead to safer, more satisfying driving experiences.

Lextant has focused and simplified user-centered design insights into the following “Right Design” principles that should be applied to display design. 

The right information

All information in front of a driver is competing for attention. Some information is more important than others and care should be taken to prioritize the most critical. Primary information is used to drive the car safely and effectively. Secondary information describes practically everything else like climate settings or media. Primary information should take priority during driving, and the information needs to be easily understood. Secondary information should not interfere with primary.

The right time

Not all information is necessary at all times, but some information is critical at certain times. To avoid information overload, displays should only present information that is important to the driver exactly when it is needed. Smart systems using artificial intelligence can predict when the driver needs specific information and present it to them at the right moment.

The right location

To date, cars have included a display behind the steering wheel, a display in the centre of the dash, and some limited heads-up display (HUD) on the windscreen. More and bigger displays allow information to be distributed around the car interior. The placement of information can either increase or decrease mental workload.

To decrease workload, displays can create consistent zones where presented information makes intuitive sense. Adding redundant auditory and haptic information can further reduce workload. Careful placement of relevant information can greatly increase usefulness and usability. If the driver needs to search for information, mental workload—and distraction—will increase.

"As part of this innovative project, we have been engaging with the insurance sector to help them understand the evidence they require to adapt their business and insurance pricing models when underwriting connected and automated vehicle (CAV) trials, in readiness for commercial deployment of CAVs at
Designers might prefer functions to be embedded in sleek touchscreens; engineers would opt for physical buttons in many cases

The right format

The most useful information allows the driver to take immediate action. The less a driver has to interpret, translate, manipulate, and transform information, the faster that information becomes useful, and the quicker they can react. An HUD can distract the driver with text or inform them if it visually connects to the environment, for example by “painting” a lane during navigation. Displays can reduce the amount of mental workload required of the driver by providing information in a format that requires little to no thinking.

The right amount

The design principle of ‘less is more’ is critical for a safe driving experience, and the larger the display area, the harder it is to follow. When automakers show large, full width HD displays in cars, they tend to fill them up with as much content as they can. While this shows well, it does pose driver risks. The more information presented at any one time will increase the amount of time the driver has to search for it. Visual searching equals distraction.

The right circumstance

Driver monitoring systems (DMS) are designed to track driver behaviours during certain circumstances. This “protective” innovation is important because drivers can fail to understand their collaborative role when engaging with various autonomous drive modes.

For instance, the Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen includes a passenger display, which understandably has numerous entertainment choices. To prevent the driver from being distracted, the system monitors the driver to see if they are looking at the passenger display. If they are, it shuts off. Larger, distributed displays will need to be smart enough to present information based on context and circumstance.

Interacting with displays

There are many ways to interact with in-vehicle displays. Touchscreens, physical controls, steering wheel controls, voice recognition, and hand gesture input all have advantages and disadvantages. Compelling concept cars typically rely on touchscreens, voice, and mid-air gestural input to keep a clean looking, hi-tech and minimal design. However, human factors engineers will focus on large shape-coded physical controls to ease mental workload. It is important that experts collaborate to create designs that have the appeal of hi-tech with an understanding of users’ strengths and weaknesses.

Revered architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe crafted the dictum “less is more,” as an appeal to modernist design and architecture, and this holds up well today. Years later, designer Deiter Rams elaborated on that principle by declaring that good design is like a good English butler: they’re there for you when you need them, but in the background at all other times. Automakers can unleash the potential of displays to create safe driving experiences by showing restraint in how they add detail and information to what is already a rich and complex environment.

About the authors: Chris Rockwell is Founder and Chief Executive and Mark Palmer is Chief Operating Officer at Lextant.  This article first appeared in Automotive World on March 15, 2021.

SCAD Partners with Lextant to Change the Face of Design Education

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Lextant have partnered to create a new certification program that will prepare SCAD students to be design industry leaders. The program entitled “Design Research and Insight Translation” is based on a new curriculum created by Lextant expressly for this purpose.

“We’re honored that Lextant is sharing their knowledge with us in order to make design a better profession,” says Victor Ermoli, Dean, SCAD School of Design. “When you apply wisdom and experience that has been not only accumulated but refined by practicing processes over a period of years, that makes your company stronger, your employees stronger, and it makes the next generation of designers stronger. With Lextant’s guidance and collaboration, we’re addressing a huge gap that has been present in design education and in the design community.”

In the Lextant certificate program at SCAD, students will learn principles and techniques to conduct future-focused research that is actionable across all functions of an organization. The certification will apply the undergraduate level industrial design class “Contextual Research Methods” and the graduate-level class “Methods of Contextual Research” in on-ground, virtual, and eLearning iterations.

SCAD Savannah – Spring 2019 – Facilities – Gulfstream – Exterior – Photography Courtesy of SCAD

SCAD professor Kwela Hermanns, associate chair, design for sustainability, and associate chair industrial design, has worked closely with Lextant to understand their trademarked principles of Insight Translation and Sensory Cue Research. “This relationship between SCAD and Lextant provides opportunities for our students to learn best design practices applied to business goals,” says Hermanns. “We both want better design research to create a better world.”

Marty Gage, Lextant VP, Design Research, has been guest lecturing at SCAD in 2002 starting a partnership that has culminated in the Lextant curriculum and certification. “The idea to develop this partnership came about because Dean Ermoli understands the importance of generative design research and he felt that Lextant’s unique approach would benefit SCAD’s students,” says Gage. “This certificate program will give the students a strong foundation in research and design to set them for success and to become leaders as they move into the workforce.  SCAD students are the future design leaders of our world.”

Going Electric:  Unlocking Adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles

Lextant hosted a panel discussion on this topic on January 19, 2021.   This is an adaption of that conversation moderated by Mark Palmer, Lextant’s Chief Operating Officer and featuring:

  • Freddie Holmes, Special Correspondent, Automotive World
  • Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Human Machine Interface and Driver Interaction, J.D. Power
  • McKay Featherstone, VP of Product Development and Engineering, Airstream
  • Chris Rockwell, Founder & CEO, Lextant

You can watch or listen to the panel discussion in its entirety here.

Mark Palmer:  I’d like to welcome everyone to today’s panel discussion.  We’ll be talking about unlocking the adoption of battery electric vehicles and explore the experience barriers and opportunities impacting consumer adoption of EVs and the design implications for future development and innovation.  To get us started, we’ll have each of our panelists share his or her perspectives on the current state of the battery electric market.  We’ll start with Freddie.

Freddie Holmes, Automotive World:   Thanks, Mark.  One of the questions we’re asking today is about the barriers to adoption of BEVs.  And, I think while there are still some technical challenges at play here, there are also consumer misconceptions about these vehicles that need to be addressed.  Some of these are that EVs are slow, boring and inconvenient to use.  While this may have been the case with earlier models, but is certainly not the case anymore – take GM’s CES presentation for example – we’re seeing more innovative models being introduced with better range, better performance and faster charging times.

Another key part of the conversation is infrastructure which generally relates to public charging points.  A shift that is important here is home charging.  Being able to have home charging is a really core part of EV ownership.  Put it this way, if you could fill up with gas at home today, you would.  You can in essence do that with an EV and it would cost you a lot less at the end of the month.  However, we can’t ignore that the majority of consumers don’t yet see the BEV as a viable alternative to the familiarity of gas engines.

Lastly, there’s a clear gap that needs to be closed between what consumers want and what they can afford to buy – and the bottom line is that EVs need to become more affordable to the average buyer.  What can we do to solve for price?  We can make smaller, cheaper batteries but that reduces range and automatically loses potential buyers.  So the industry in the collective sense really has a challenge on its hands.  This goes beyond the automaker to the entire supply chain encompassing tier ones, charging developers and energy companies as well.

Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power:  Hello, everyone.  At J.D. Power, I’m responsible for the voice of the customer respective to the human machine interface and how their interactions with this technology is translating into the next phases of mobility.  Electrification is a big part of our research that we have been studying for decades.  It’s fascinating to see that while we’re seeing huge technological strides being made in range, cost and reliability of EVs, the mindset of the consumer in regards to adoption really hasn’t changed since our first study in 1997.  There’s a real lack of awareness on the consumer’s part about how far the industry has progressed in addressing the barriers of range and charging.

We have multiple different research studies we perform at J.D. Power and I’ll be referencing some of those related to electrification with you here today.  One area we are focused on is how consumer sentiment is changing over time.  Or how is consumer interest in EVs tracking with the with the many new products being introduced to market.  The short answer is that it’s not.  We are seeing very stagnant consumer interest in EVs so the industry still has work to do to change that.

We are also conducting multiple studies focused on EV ownership specifically looking at home charging, public charging, and other elements of EV consideration.  We’re studying the ownership experience to really look at the quality, reliability and other consumer expectations that make EVs unique.

McKay Featherstone, Airstream:  Hi, I’m McKay Featherstone with Airstream.  We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, and we believe electrification will truly be a transformational technology not just for our trailers but also for the motor home side of our business.  The Airstream experience is different than that of a consumer EV – we’re part transportation product, part mobility solution and part lifestyle – and the one big idea for us is the freedom we can give our customers in the way they want to live and travel.  Electrification has the opportunity to change how they travel and give them even more freedom.  It means you can cut the cord from the campground and go almost anywhere you want to go because you have a battery system on board.

More broadly though, when you think of the US market, we’re watching the electrification to the consumer truck market.  Trucks are the number one selling vehicles and a big reason why is that people want to be able to tow things – like an Airstream trailer.  The challenge for electric trucks is when you tow something heavy behind it, you’re going to reduce rage.  So we’re very focused on how to positively impact that and be part of a solution.  How can our product continue to enable that freedom of mobility and how do we help the consumer understand what the experience will actually be like with towing, with charging – so there’s a big technical component and a strong consumer education component involved.

Chris Rockwell, Lextant:  Over the last 20 years, Lextant has been engaged with understanding consumers and users involved with co-creating and evaluation new mobility solutions, and we’ve found that while there are the technical barriers range, charging and the like that we need to overcome to fuel EV adoption, we have to go beyond those to really understand what people want from the experience on an emotional level.

We’ve seen from our research that there is an experience gap when it comes to EVs and we see a real opportunity for us to better express through design and communication the experience opportunities EVs can provide that aren’t possible with other vehicles.   Ambiguity and unpredictability universally detract from experiences, and in the case of electric vehicles, we’re dealing with a lot of ambiguity.  Consumers don’t understand what the technology affords and there’s uncertainty about what it’s actually like to own and use a vehicle like this.  So we have to help consumers project into the future possibilities for them to have trust and believe in the empowerment and freedom EVs can give them.

From a functionality standpoint, the EV experience has to be feel familiar and accessible to some degree to foster trust, but at the same time look new and transformational.  While this is a challenge, we can co-create the experience with consumers to build those breakthrough vehicles.  It won’t just be that it’s a different type of propulsion system, it will really be the mobility experience that matters.


MP:  As I’ve listened to all of you, it seems that there are two different parts to the adoption challenge – technical and experiential.  Regarding the technical barriers, Kristin, where are you seeing movement in cost, range and charging?

KK: Let me take a step back and qualify that some of these technical barriers are more perceived than actual as consumers are just not to the level of education they need to be to appreciate the advances being made on the electrification front.  To put it in perspective, over two thirds of Americans have never been in an electrified vehicle before and we also see that over one third of Americans say they have no knowledge of battery electric vehicles.

We have to recognize that from a consumer point of view, we haven’t brought them up to the level of understanding of what this new technology really means.  Consumers who haven’t experienced and EV don’t really know what they’re asking for or what’s realistic when it comes to range, time to charge, battery life, etc.  So there are nuances we need to do a better job explaining to set ourselves up for success in converting someone to be a BEV owner.   We need to be as transparent as possible about what the experience is now and how it is going to change over time.

MP:  Freddie, Kristin points out that the American market is still quite behind in its understanding of the EV experience.  From your point of you what can we learn from the European and Scandinavian markets in addressing these technical challenges where you have a higher adoption of EVs?

FH:  I’m not sure that I can give you a definitive answer but I’ll start with agreeing with Kristin on the importance of addressing the nuances when it comes to battery range and charge time.  A lot of the technical issues and challenges relate to the battery itself.

So, I’d like to touch on some of the very basic discussions taking place around battery chemistry as automakers are working hard to find ways to improve this in tandem with the largest battery suppliers around the world.  The incumbent battery technology is lithium ion but work is being done to try and find solid state batteries.  This is pretty much seen as the holy grail as it essentially means the battery is no longer that flammable, can be charge more quickly and will be lighter as well.  The solid state cells in development are enabling charges of 80% in 15 minutes compared to the current average of 50-60% in 15 minutes.  They will also be more durable which is a key consideration looking towards a future used EV market.  Our biggest hurdles appear to be cultural instead of technical at this stage.


MP:  Chris, you spoke earlier of an experience gap.  I imagine there are some elements of car culture – especially for trucks and sports cars – where there is a hard wired attachment to the visceral feelings you get from the cars sounds, the smell of gasoline and the like.  What are your thoughts on this experience challenge?

CR:  The truck segment is the fastest growing in the U.S. auto market as you know and there is a certain affinity for combustion there.  The challenge for EV conversion is to really unpack that emotional connection to the vehicle – what does the vehicle say about me and my personality?  Then how do we communicate through design cues the possibilities of a new type of vehicle.  How do you deliver on freedom?  How do you deliver on ease, comfort, or power in ways you couldn’t deliver before?

That’s where we have real potential to unlock the mass market by creating new vehicle experiences that deliver these emotional outcomes and pull people to EVs rather than a push strategy.  Our research shows that it’s totally possible to connect those desired emotional experiences to the functional benefits you get from electrification – not just the fact that it happens to be a different powertrain but the new added value associated with it.


MP:  McKay, will you pick up on this and talk a little bit more about how Airstream is approaching added value through electrification?

MF:  Chris, I think you’re exactly right with the potential that’s there to connect emotional benefits and outcomes to the functional, tangible benefits.  For Airstream, one of the things I’m really excited about with electrification is the opportunity to relieve one of the big pain points of trailering – backing up into a tight space.  Nobody likes to do that.  Now we have the opportunity to introduce a battery and powertrain into the trailer itself.  We’re already introducing these products in Europe where there just isn’t room for a big truck or SUV at most campgrounds, and we see this becoming widely available here in the U.S. so our owners may never have to back up a trailer again!

This technology is actually opening up potential new segments for us as well.  Removing the intimidation of backing up is one benefit being part of that freedom to go where you want to go idea.  Another is removing the need for gas-powered generators that can be noisy and smelly.

We are really talking to our consumers to understand how we can leverage electrification to uncover and design more and more ways to differentiate and create even better experiences that will make even more desirable products.

KK:  That’s a really interesting point, McKay.  The idea that we can create new experiences that might only be achievable through electrification.  Then helping consumers connect those dots and celebrate the potential.

CR:  To add to what you’re both saying, all of a sudden vehicles can be reconfigured in new ways using space more efficiently and differently.  The idea that EVs can provide experiences you can’t get in other kinds of vehicles today will get the more rapid adoption we’re all looking for.

MF:  That’s one of the most exciting things for us – especially on the motor home side of the business – fundamentally changing how we design the layout.  The new skateboard-type platform is giving our designers a foundation with a lot of freedom to build whatever they want on top of it.  To create new layouts and experiences we could never touch with a traditional platform.


MP:  And, to an earlier point, we can find ways for people to bond with these vehicles especially if we communicate their new capabilities through design.

MF:  Yes, Kristin made a great point about consumers not having the knowledge or understanding they need yet.  I think Porsche, Tesla and Hummer are all great cases of vehicle design giving a clear sense of what they are all about.  I’m also really enjoying seeing the new Cadillac line from GM and that luxury experience.  I think they are using design to help people understand the possibilities or to at least get excited about what the possibilities can be.


MP:  So you’re all seeing great possibility about the experiences electric vehicles will be able to create that combustions engines can’t provide but these do come with a price tag.  How do you all see performance and affordability starting to come together?

FH:  We are definitely moving to that point.  You mentioned benefits with costs, but there are also benefits that are coming for free.  Automakers are coming up with apps that tether to your car to give you key information like state of charge in real time.

There is also vehicle to grid technology being discussed with the opportunity to use your vehicle as a storage system.  The idea being that you use solar power to charger your car, take your car out and back, and then use that energy to feedback into your home.

We’re also seeing some manufacturers  offering as many as 30,000 free electric miles which is a pretty strong incentive, especially if you don’t have the ability to charge your vehicle at home.


MP:  Freddie, that raises a question about the success of EVs in Europe, what have the impact of incentives and government policies been?

FH:  They have certainly played a role in making it easier for automakers to get cars off the lot and reclaim some of the investments they’ve made in this new technology.  And, then, of course these are powerful carrots for the consumer.  Kristin, you may be well positioned to comment about North America.

KK:  One of the things we’ve seen consistently in our research is that incentives play a major factor in consideration for electric vehicles for consumers who have never owned an EV but also for consumers that have a battery electric vehicle today.  Tying incentives to experiencing an EV is critical to consideration and purchase.

What we are seeing is that for those that actually have owned an electric vehicle, their loyalty to that type of powertrain fit configuration is huge and for the most part never going back to an internal combustion engine.  And, this holds true at a variety of different satisfaction levels.

So the more we can get people to consider these vehicles and have an experience that leads to purchase, then we’re going to really see the trajectory of adoption accelerate and grow.

CR:  Kristin, do you think the data point around people who buy electric vehicles never going back  is highly correlated with either a brand affinity or to being an early adopter by nature?

KK:  What we’re seeing is that it’s not staying with a specific brand itself but a staying with that powertrain type itself where the loyalty is lying.  We appear to be transitioning from the early adopter type of consumer to a more mass market consumer with mass market expectations for quality and reliability.

CR:  Thanks again to all of you for sharing your view points on this important topic today.  I think we’ve all agreed that the success of EVs will really be tied to creating experiences that pull consumers to them in addition to incentives that help push consideration.  It’s really encouraging to see the sheer amount of investment going into the entire supply chain and to see the OEMs launching a wide range of EVS models and price points.   Signs that we are definitely at an inflection point and if we deliver on the experience at these first moments of truth we can see that final swing in market adoption.

You can watch or listen to the panel discussion in its entirety here.

















Don’t let today’s circumstances slow you down.

Since our beginning over 20 years ago, we have pioneered innovative approaches to conduct global, remote user research to model, define, and measure desired experiences. Today, we can stream that research directly to you wherever you are.

Mobile Moments™

Our Mobile Moments™ process allows people to capture and journal their experiences over time giving you the definitive moments in their lives and the context in which these moments happen. It’s a great approach for use cases and jobs to be done.

Prime. Dream. Create. ™

Prime. Dream. Create.™ is our proprietary Qualtrics module that uses projective techniques understand desired experiences and co-create the ideal future solution.

Remote Insight Translation™

Remote Insight Translation™ workshops leverage online tools such as Stormboard and Mural to align dispersed teams around what people want and how they want it delivered.


Our Global Stream™ technology uses a multiplex video capture (multiple camera views) of interactions with your product or service concepts and streams these directly to you in real time.


Lextant’s patented Experience Metrics™ process features forward thinking methods and protocols that help brands measure what matters most to customers.  Concrete results provide a secret weapon for companies to get ahead and stay ahead.


Our Drive-Through Testing™ collects customers’ experiences with products or services from the safety of their own vehicle.

We know that while the circumstances may have changed, your goals to deliver better customer experiences to market have not. Lextant is at the ready to help you make smart choices, sharpen decisions, and eliminate guesswork so you can move forward faster.

If you’re looking for new ways to keep your business moving right now or are just interested in learning more about remote experience-driven design approaches, we want to hear from you.


Measure What Really Matters

The perfect customer experience is the holy grail for development teams. But the very nature of the word “experience” can seem woolly, subjective and intangible.  Current market research methods that focus on customer satisfaction surveys are not providing the clarity to move the needle.

Experience Metrics™ is a patented experience measurement solution that balances creativity with rigor.  It brings clarity and control to experience design. We built it, we own it, we do it every day. No one else has it. Experience Metrics™ offers:

Forward-thinking processes for defining ideal experiences.

Experience Metrics frees teams to see beyond the limitations by the category and design instead toward a desired ideal. And because an ideal persists, they can pursue their experiential goals iteratively and year-over-year, moving beyond incremental growth and toward disruptive change.

Concrete resources that translate ideal experiences into actionable details.

Experience Metrics capture ideal experience attributes in concrete visual and verbal tools so that extended teams can work against a single, unifying model. Measurable details become manageable details, minimizing guesswork.

Proven protocols that bring confidence to customer experience initiatives.

Experience Metrics reduce the risk of NPD initiatives, sharpen decisions about how to refresh existing offers, and provide a nuanced way to understand competitive offers. More importantly, it has the power to identify the white spaces where emergent needs may reveal game-changing opportunities.

Autonomous Interiors: What Will the Future Look Like?

What is the key to success with autonomous interiors?

When we think about autonomous interiors, it is very easy to focus on the technology.

Our belief is that the human experience – not technology – will determine the future.  So, if you want to create experiences that are truly transformative, you need to go beyond the technology—to the psychology.

What does the ideal driver and passenger experience feel like? What does the interior need to look like to make people feel this way? What product features and attributes will help create the desired experience? What are the design cues that can help?

The best interiors will be those that have thought through these questions to create experiences that let the driver enjoy the ride and allow the full promise of autonomous vehicles to be realized.

What new activities will the autonomous interior offer?

Technological advances in deep learning, connective services, voice, virtual reality and surface technology are all coming together to supercharge what is possible in autonomous vehicles.

At Lextant, we see these advances through the lens of consumer behavior and desire—the interior of the future needs to be about psychology as much as technology. The goal is for the experience as a whole to not only meet needs but to anticipate them… inspiring connection, collaboration and relaxation.

For example, energized glass coupled with augmented reality opens up new opportunities for connection. Imagine the wind screen becoming a window to the world.  Drive through a new city, see where relevant services are located, get information on history and culture, and then use virtual reality services to tour the sites en route.

We also see interiors facilitating connections with family, friends and networks. As the technology moves off a single screen, you won’t need apps on your phone, the capabilities move with you. Just use voice to pull up information on the glass.

There will be new collaborative opportunities too.  Rather than having to plug in and open up, multimodal surfaces will allow you to pull out a table that can serve as a screen or a video conferencing station or simply as a counter to work on. That is empowering.

And, the same configurable surfaces that facilitate productivity can also be used to tune the world out. Users will be able to control acoustics and lighting and to set moods so they can truly switch off.

And then, there will be the moment when drivers just want to drive. The autonomous interior, particularly in cars for personal use, will need to cater to the desire for freedom and empowerment that have always been at the heart of the driving experience.

What novel “transitional” technologies (fold-away steering wheels, moveable seating, interactive windshields/windows etc.) will debut first?

The move to full automation will not happen overnight. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has defined six levels of automation. Up to at least level three, there are still times when the driver needs to be able to take control—for example, in unplanned turn-taking or more complex or emergency situations.

As drivers move across levels of automation, it is more difficult for occupants to know their roles in the experience – What do I need to be responsible for? What can the automation at each level do? What can I interact with and when? In what situations can I use certain features?

For example, if a steering wheel is present in a fully autonomous mode, can I interact with it? The key to successful experiences is to establish trust and ease of use by removing any ambiguity or unpredictability from the experience through effective design. For example, steering wheels can fold away during high levels of autonomation to make it clear that the vehicle is in control. Audi has demonstrated this type of concept allowing the occupants to “take up” the steering wheel when needed or desired in a clear signaling of control.

Another example is GM’s Super Cruise technology that uses infrared to monitor the driver’s facial focus. It then signals when the driver needs to re-engage.

Continued investment in experiences and technologies that can promote trust is critical.

Helping New Consumers Make Healthy Choices


Conagra saw an opportunity to attract a new generation of consumers to their Healthy Choice brand.  They reached out to Lextant to redefine and gain concrete tips on how to make the Healthy Choice brand relevant to new consumers and how to expand consumption occasions.


Lextant used customer segmentation data to define an ideal healthy food experience and identify opportunities for the Healthy Choice brand to expand meals to include new recipes and different times of day. Additionally, the data helped determine factors to increase brand appeal among the hard-to-reach millennials demographic.


  • Lextant research helped Conagra develop new lines and recipes, including the nutrient dense, protein-packed Power Bowls and breakfast options.
  • Insights from Lextant consumer information resulted in a 30% growth in all Healthy Choice segments.
  • New recipes and positioning helped drive an 18% increase in usage by millennials—a group that typically rejects frozen foods and is traditionally hard to reach.

Lextant is proud to help Conagra drive innovation through the lens of the consumer. To learn more about Conagra’s innovation approach, click here.