Volvo-owned Polestar is expanding its collaboration with Google to create a customizable, smartphone-like infotainment system for the Polestar 2. The company released additional details about the features it plans to include in it.
The Android-powered software programmed into the 2's dashboard will serve as the foundation for future upgrades. Polestar explained it takes digital integration seriously, and it wants its cars to offer users a personalized and contextualized experience. The next step towards that goal is ensuring the software recognizes the driver, and that's not necessarily as controversial as it might sound. Big Brother won't be watching you.
The 2 will identify the person about to sit behind the steering wheel using information sent by the Polestar Digital Key, which is essentially a line of code stored in the owner's smartphone. If you share the car with your kid, you'll each have a unique digital key that corresponds to a specific profile. Once it knows you're you, and if you allow it to, the car can offer personalized planning by taking into account your habits, your schedule, and your preferences. Google's operating system already does this; book flights to a city you've never visited before, and Android sends push notifications with point-of-interest suggestions.
The built-in Google Assistant will rely on what Polestar calls advanced speech technology to understand natural phrases, even if the person speaking has a strong accent. The company also revealed video streaming from popular apps and services will be available, though there's no word yet on which platform(s) the infotainment system will be compatible with, and whether users will need to pay to use this function. Odds are the car will need a reliable data connection to let you watch your favorite show, so users will at least need to pay for that.
It sounds like we're describing KITT from Knight Rider, but that's not what Polestar set out to develop. It pledged to use eye-tracking technology and proximity sensors to avoid an information overload. The screens inside the 2 will automatically get brighter when the driver looks at them, and they'll dim when they're not needed, or in response to lighting conditions -- again like a smartphone. The software will also emit visual warnings if it detects the driver is spending too much time looking at a screen instead of paying attention to the road.
The electric Polestar 2 (pictured above) will inaugurate the Android-powered infotainment system when it reaches customers (with or without a trailer hitch) in 2020. The software will later find its way into the brand's other models, including a crossover expected to make its debut in the not-too-distant future.