Product Innovation Trends

Is a Vehicle Something You Wear Not Drive?

The disruption of automotive will change how we build products


I walked away utterly convinced that we are on the verge of a major change in how we view transportation and that we only barely understand its impact on society. This was after the keynote delivered by Dr. Lawrence Burns at the 16th annual IESF conference, hosted by Mentor Graphics in Dearborn, MI last week. Larry’s talk would have been appropriate for the U.N. because it was sweeping and impactful in nature and content.


Here are a few key points that Larry made and my thoughts. If you get a chance to hear him speak, do it.

  • The paradigm of owning an automobile has not really changed since its invention in 1886 by Karl Benz. Like other industries, personal transportation is ripe for change.
  • Only 1% of the potential energy of the fuel put into a car goes towards moving the driver. Most is lost to heat. The rest lost to moving the car itself. That is a lot of margin to be reclaimed and good system engineering process can help.
  • “A vehicle is something you wear, not drive, and something you park in your closet, not your garage”. Um … mind blown here. But this is the type of daring thinking that can help kickstart new companies or remake old ones.
  • Google and Apple are really good at looking at Big Data and applying Fast Insight. Their forays into Automotive is an attempt to leverage these complex skills in new markets. It just so happens that the data comes from the sensors and millions of miles of road test, and the fast insights are braking or turning the wheel.

Later in the day, during my talk (“The Disruption of Automotive Will Change How Products are Built”), I was initially unsure about how to position Jama and modern requirements in context to these bigger, revolutionary ideas. However, I think that we all have important roles to play in Big Ideas, and even Big Ideas are comprised of many smaller components. How they all come together forms the larger picture, and the role of requirements from concept to production is a vitally important “steel thread” that deserves a spot at the table. As companies re-tool for this next wave in automobile technology, they have the opportunity to re-asses how they decide what to build, track it, and test for it. These tasks will be harder with the convergence of different engineering groups and software teams. I am now more convinced that at Jama we can help foster a conversation and collaboration between these historically disparate groups to help bring about the New Mobility Age that Larry laid out for us.

Either way, it’ll soon be the death of parking lots, traffic lights, car lots, car loans, auto insurance, gas stations, traffic jams, …