Autonomous vehicles powered by artificial-intelligence systems are rapidly changing the very concept of driving, but how do you convey the scale and adaptability of a formless technology? Designers at Hakuten Corp. faced that very challenge when creating Audi Japan K.K.'s exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show, which showcased the automaker's new A8 sedan, the first vehicle in the world to offer conditional automated driving courtesy of groundbreaking Audi AI hardware and software.
The solution lay in a jaw-dropping overhead installation of approximately 3,000 polycarbonate tubes suspended above the majority of the footprint. Ranging from roughly 6 feet to 9 feet in length, these .5-inch-diameter elements reflected the light projected by a series of strategically placed LEDs.
Audi Japan K.K. displayed its artificial-intelligence-enabled A8 sedan inside a roughly 21-foot-wide oval structure surrounded by 466 LED tube lights. Attendees could sit in the car and don custom smart eyeglasses that tracked their head and eye movements, which were visually represented by synchronized flashes of red light.
"The lighting effect was completely different depending on the viewing angle of an attendee," said designer Satoru Utashiro. "We wanted to convey that the technology in the A8 gives a unique experience to each driver. The message was subtle, as light, like artificial intelligence, has no shape." While the design's conceit may have bordered on the subliminal, Exhibit Design Awards judges were more than cognizant of its effect. "This is a stop-you-in-your-tracks stand attendees couldn't resist," raved one judge.
This interplay of illumination and technology continued in the semi-enclosed oval structure housing the A8 itself. Staffers invited attendees to sit in the car and don customized Jins Meme smart glasses from Rhizomatiks Co. Ltd.that tracked wearers' head and eye movements. Sections of the surrounding LED tubes glowed red depending on where the car's passengers were looking, artfully implying that the A8 can synchronize with each driver. E