|Pilot program offers Uber, Lyft riders massages, immersive media|
Picture this: Riders hop into an Uber or other ride-hailing vehicle and immediately feel the relief of a massage or enjoy personalized entertainment. It might sound more futuristic than realistic, but that's exactly what one startup is looking to do.
Personalized passenger experience company Ivee is bringing its technology to ride-hailing vehicles as part of a pilot program to offer passengers massages and "immersive entertainment" options. Ivee is working in partnership with supplier Brose.
The ride-hailing program is part of Ivee's vision to familiarize riders with the look and feel of features that could eventually be common inside autonomous vehicles.
"We want passengers to get a glimpse of what they can expect in self-driving vehicles," Ivee CEO Alex Giannikoulis said in a statement. "We believe passengers will reconsider the vehicles they choose and how they'll use their time on the go."
The pilot program is available in some Uber and Lyft vehicles in Miami.
Drivers are paid to use it based on passenger usage and satisfaction. It's one way Ivee is exploring a "hardware as a service" business model.
Drivers approved for the pilot can self-install the Ivee Inside infotainment screen, along with Brose's Responsive Seat, which is a back cushion that provides a vibrating massage and is equipped with speakers and haptic feedback capability so that it pulsates with the media that's playing.
The passenger can enable the features by tapping on the Ivee display or speaking to it.
The technology was built as an aftermarket product for which Ivee and Brose did the software and hardware integration.
"Ivee web- and voice-enabled the Responsive Seat so we can change the duration, intensity, type, and price of the experience per passenger, per location" and more, Giannikoulis said in a statement to Automotive News. "Imagine saying, 'Hey Ivee start massage' in your next ride-hail vehicle leaving the airport. Also, this Responsive Seat requires no physical switches in the vehicle – which means less cost, damage, design compromises."
The flexible interiors of robotaxis and self-driving shuttles could allow for riders to have more tailored experiences including personalized lighting, infotainment, seating configurations and even health and wellness features.
-- Alexa St. John