DETROIT — A friendly competition designed to spark innovation at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as employees work from home produced a smartphone app that the company is now releasing to help customers learn about their vehicles.
FCA's "Pitch Night" event during the summer led to the submission of more than 500 ideas related to connectivity and infotainment that were then voted on. The virtual event, borrowing from the "Shark Tank" TV show format in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel, ended with one winner: an augmented reality app called Know & Go that breaks down key features by having the user simply point the camera at a part of the vehicle.
When looking through the camera, the user will see a name and description overlaid on the particular feature. The upcoming Ram 1500 TRX, due out before the end of the year, is the first vehicle that can be used with the app.
The concept came about after two employees — Feature Innovation Manager Carolina Harris and Propulsion Systems Program Manager Mimi Nguyen — combined their ideas into one.
The two knew the competition was fierce because they had a chance to check out many of the ideas on a database where the concepts were housed. That "kept us on our toes to try and put forth the best proposal and pitch that we could," Nguyen told Automotive News.
Harris and Nguyen have each interacted with customers over the years through consumer research. Nguyen said they saw firsthand how customers weren't aware of all of the capabilities of their vehicles. Features that could improve the driving and ownership experience often go unused because drivers don't know about them, Nguyen said.
Know & Go provides push notifications about undiscovered features, overviews and how-to videos in addition to feature-specific owner's manual pages.