Where Porsche’s Digital heart is beating: The Porsche Digital Experience Foundry
The future is a game of chess. We have to position ourselves, define our starting point, and consider very precisely the direction we would like to take. On this path, however, we also have to respond to change and adjust our strategy. This not only applies to people, but also brands. Porsche has already made its opening move: For its journey into a digital future we founded Porsche Digital.
Turning point of our digital world
In 1985, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov played 32 matches at the same time — against a chess computer. He won every match. “Nobody was surprised,” explains Kasparov at IFA+ in Berlin. He adds that the machines were weak but his “hair was strong”. Twelve years later, IBM’s supercomputer Big Blue defeated Kasparov. The event heralded the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the turning point in the advancement of our digital world.
Anyone who wants to interpret Kasparov’s hair — now grey and thinning — as a symbol for humanity, beaten like Kasparov by machines, may envisage tragic scenarios of machine laboratories in which Artificial Intelligence is working on world domination. They will, however, only find enough to fill a couple of plots for an average science fiction thriller. The reality is somewhat different — as we can see at ourselves and at the Porsche Digital campus, for example.
Silicon Valley in Ludwigsburg: Porsche Digital
The office in Ludwigsburg is set up on old factory premises. Modern, with an open design as you would expect in the Silicon Valley. No employee has a fixed desk; everyone chooses their work area. Teams are formed depending on projects. A couple of plants, a few glass boxes in which you can make a phone call in peace, a handful of conventional flipcharts. Meeting rooms behind glass that have the names of legendary race circuits such as Laguna Seca, Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps, including a sketch of the track layout. In one corner, there is a pinball machine; in another a Carrera race track and a driving simulator for Xbox.
This gives you an impression of Porsche Digital, but it does not really grasp how the organisation works. It is not a company in the classical sense, but rather a body which develops, grows and constantly creates something new.
Classics reloaded: a foundry for digital products
Another example is the Porsche Digital Experience Foundry, a digital workshop and simulation area for the development of prototypes that is unique in the automotive industry. The workshop allows digital products and services related to vehicles to be tested, developed and optimised much more specifically to customer requirements at an early stage of the development process. Together with start-up and cooperation partner home-iX, the approximately 30m² display was installed to meet Porsche Digital’s specific demands.
The Foundry will be comparable to the role of prototypes in traditional vehicle development, where they are used to validate results early on in the process. However, the relevant projects at the Porsche Digital Experience Foundry are not vehicles per se, but rather digital products. Thanks to the projection surface, these “digital prototypes” can now be tested and developed in realistic situations. For example, by simulating an airport or living room. In addition, the Foundry is also intended for use for workshops and start-up pitches, as well as for joint developments with customers and partners — for example #AIMondays to bring Stuttgart an AI closer together.
Crucial components for a digital lifestyle: smart living and the connected car
With home-iX, Porsche Digital is not only working in the Digital Experience Foundry — the company is also invested in the B2B start-up, which was founded in 2016 by the former Porsche employees Mehmet Arziman and Heiko Scholtes. home-ix is specialized in smart living and enables companies within the automotive industry to offer customised smart living solutions which network vehicles and home. This involves specific solutions which connect the networked home, vehicle, mobile devices and digital assistants.
For Porsche Digital, smart living is a crucial component in the development of a digital lifestyle. Smart living and the smart home refer to an environment in which household and mobile devices — from the air conditioning system to the car — interact and can be controlled centrally. Everyday processes are automated; intelligent networking ensures efficiency, convenience, safety and productivity — both when you are at home or out and about. Bright People are behind and in the center of all of these developments, which means that we do not need to be afraid of a superpower with Artificial Intelligence. At least not according to Garry Kasparov: “It’s up to us to define the direction.” And he’s the man to know.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the magazine RAMP, written by Tom M. Muir and was slightly adapted for this blog. Photos by Matthias Mederer — ramp.pictures