Audi activesphere concept Drops in Los Angeles

[by: Denis Podmarkov]

Concept cars often push the boundaries of automotive design and technology, incorporating features that may not be practical or feasible for mass production – features that seem Star Trek and that we won’t see for years to come. But once you get a chance to experience them and see them for yourself, you realize how this technology is coming sooner than we may have thought. There is no promise of an assured arrival, but concepts like this open your eyes to the future of Audi and the direction the brand is going. And I’m here for it. 

Audi Club published the full press release on the Audi activesphere concept a few months back, and you can find that HERE.

Obviously there’s a lot of talk about how the future of driving will be autonomous, and perhaps how the human driving experience is fading away. That’s not the case here. You get to be the pilot. The interior can undergo a physical transformation in layout. The dashboard rises from the floor in front of the front passengers, and a steering wheel unfolds from beneath it, which is quite impressive. We have a video of that up on our Instagram page (@audiclubna) 

You’ll noticed there is no big screen, minimal buttons, and no instrument console. Get ready to do your best Tony Stark impression and put on your best VR glasses. Welcome to Audi dimensions. 

Sid Odedra, Head of UI/UX Design at Audi explains “In the Audi activesphere concept, we are demonstrating what is currently the most advanced manifestation of this technology with mixed reality – a better experience with less obvious technology in the interior. We want people to immerse themselves in the interface. The technical interface is no longer defined by frames, screens, or projections. And that’s the full definition of immersion. You really are at the center of this world. We call it Audi dimensions’

When you don the glasses, the vehicle’s interior comes alive and displays information such as navigation, speed, and vehicle stats. It also features HVAC controls and music selection that can be adjusted through hand gestures as well. The majority of people don’t need to think about this technology yet since it is years away from being produced for the mass market, but you’ll be seeing more of Audi dimensions in the near future.

My take? I’m impressed. The fact that you are no longer limited to a certain area for controls and information, you have access to much more information without having to sacrifice interior design. But, I also like having physical buttons as well. It’s too early to tell how successful this technology will be and if other automakers will follow suit, but what I saw blew my socks off. What I’d only seen in video games, I was now experiencing myself. It was a bit wild to control the HVAC by raising my hand in the air and twisting the “invisible” knob. 

We spent a good amount of time with Gael Buzyn, Senior Director at the Audi design loft in Malibu, southern California, going over his inspiration and thoughts on the design language. He mentioned “For once, the sketch design translated to a real car. It’s not very often the case.” As most designers can vouch, oftentimes the original ideas get lost through translation and approvals, and the original design is left on paper, not with the car. That’s not the case here. 

“We wanted to give the car dual personalities. Bold, rugged. Stylish, elegant.” Think of it as allroad DNA, Sportback styling, and e-tron performance. One feature I would love to see make it to production is the transformation of the rear storage area – from Sportback to pickup in a few seconds. It can be used to store your bikes or other outdoor equipment. A separator is placed behind the rear seats to isolate the cabin. I have never wanted a Sportback pickup so badly.

I’m also hoping to see the transformation of the side skirts make it to production as well. This is along the lines of allroad DNA with the car lifting 1.5in higher for more ground clearance. 

Let’s talk interior. The design features a gradual shift from a darker color to a vibrant orange/red, rather than being solidly red throughout. Gael told us the purpose of this, mentioning that when vehicles have a solid color for their interior, the seats always stick out like a sore thumb through the windshield. By adding a gradient, you no longer have that red interior right in your face. We both agreed that it feels like a sunset setting into a dark ocean as the colors shift from a dark sky, and the sun slowly descends below the horizon. It’s warm glow casts a shimmering trail and quickly fades into the Arctic Teal paint. I think this would be a great add-on for Audi exclusive orders.

The interior feels cozy and elegant. A lot of straight lines through the cabin and the feeling of home is found. It feels like one of those conversation pits from the 70s. I never got to experience them but I’d imagine this is what it was like. Gael mentioned that mid-century design was a big influence for the interior’s design language. There’s a lot of glass to bring you closer to your surroundings, plus better viewpoints when you are exploring your local trails. Interior for me is a 10/10. I would love to have my office look like this.

The Audi activesphere concept car pushes the boundaries of automotive design and technology with its advanced features, including mixed reality and immersive interface, while still allowing the driver to be in control. The interior layout is versatile and can undergo a physical transformation, with a rising dashboard and an unfolding steering wheel. The Audi dimensions technology allows for a virtual reality experience with access to more information and controls without sacrificing the interior design. The dual personality of the car, featuring allroad DNA, Sportback styling, and e-tron performance, along with the transformation of the rear storage area and side skirts, make it an exciting concept. The interior design is elegant and cozy, with a gradual shift from a darker color to a vibrant red/orange, inspired by mid-century design. The Audi activesphere concept offers a glimpse into the future of Audi’s direction and design, and I’m here for it. I’m looking forward to seeing what is next for the Audi design team!

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