The Magic of the Future

Osman Dumbuya is CEO of Incari, a development partner of Piëch Automotive. The company’s focus is on accelerating software developments. In our conversation with him, we looked thirty-five thousand years into the past, ten years into the future and spoke about the future of the sports car and the value of travel. The forty-four-year-old was cautious about making predictions, however, as the world is simply changing much too fast for that.
  • Interview
    Michael Köckritz
  • Photos
    Dirk Deckbar

We meet Osman Dumbuya for a coffee in Berlin. He’s very relaxed and tells us that he’s blocked a long time slot in his calendar for our interview and apologizes for a twenty-minute call that he’ll have to take some time in between. So that’s our cue for diving right in.

Mr. Dumbuya, the theme of our current issue is “All in Good Time”. In a workshop that you organized together with Piëch Automotive, you presented a software solution that’s intended to accelerate development processes in the automotive industry. Can you explain to us what that’s all about?

Let’s take a browser in a car. You can use it to receive emails, send text messages and a lot of other things. The applications behind it are still complex, but we make the development process for controlling all these individual components a whole lot easier. We help people implement these kinds of developments. Engineering-oriented people often come up with solutions that lack a creative component, because they tend to think in technical processes. Creative minds, on the other hand, often lack a certain technical know-how. Our software allows these two species to work together right from the beginning. That’s one of our major innovations.

How did the cooperation with Anton Piëch and his team come about?

One of our colleagues knew a member of Piëch’s team. The two of them had already worked together in the past. They had a private chat and realized that we offered solutions for some of Piëch’s needs. At a meeting, we found that we made a good match. And the chemistry was right. As easy as that. So that’s how we became part of the Piëch ecosystem. We are responsible for all human-machine interfaces in the cars. This allows Piëch to use their resources for other issues. We offer a kind of plug-and-play solution, taking into account design specifications, aesthetic ideas and corporate identity requirements.

What is Incari’s main line of business?

We have various products that focus on different things. We’re talking about Incari Studio now. Originally, we had wanted to design a graphical representation of a radio, an A/C control and many other systems in a car. In the end, we developed a tool that allows for the implementation of everything along the human-machine interface using our software. Incari Studio has evolved into something like a visual studio, a development kit that allows for developing complex applications in a very simple way.

“We are responsible for all human-machine interfaces in the cars. This allows Piëch to use their resources for other issues.”
Can this tool be used only in cars?

The idea has grown in connection with cars. By now, the toolbox can, however, be used for developing user interfaces for any machine. Refrigerators, washing machines or even planes and satellite systems. We create appropriate interfaces for any machine, so that it can be controlled using our software.

Will the interaction between humans and machines remain a central topic for you?

I think it’s what I would call our cultural topic. We’re talking about technology, complex technology, but in the end it’s all about helping humans and machines to interact. In ten years’ time, technological development will be completely different from what it’s like now. Incari GmbH wants to push back the omnipresence of computer systems while at the same time giving people access to IT wherever they are. Technology will no longer need to be as visually present as it is today. We’re working on making technology invisible, giving it a touch of magic. 

How far along are we on this magic path? 

Very far actually. We’re already capable of putting many things into practice. I know that it’s difficult for many to follow such thoughts. They’re firmly anchored in the here and now and cannot even imagine such rapid developments. But we’re right in the midst of an enormous transformation process. In the digital field and on so many other levels. I’ll try to explain that using a thought model, okay?

Please do.

Let’s imagine that we meet a person who lived thirty-five thousand years ago. He’s a homo sapiens just like we are. If we move twenty thousand years further along the timeline, we’ll find the first settlements. And around five thousand years ago we’ll be able to marvel at the Egyptians and their pyramids. So what do we learn from this journey through time? Human beings from thirty-five thousand years ago would still be able to understand pretty much every­thing that has happened since. Right up to the beginning of industrialization. 

“Human beings from thirty-five thousand years ago would be able to understand pretty much everything up to the beginning of industrialization.”
And that’s when the disruption happens?

It’s when things start getting interesting. Let’s imagine confronting a person who lived a hundred years ago with a computer in the early 2000s. We could tell them: “Hey, we’ve sent people to the moon. And we can take a plane and travel around the world within just a few hours.” This would be a revolution for that person. But even if we took someone form the 1980s to 2021, there are some things that would seem like magic to them. We use mobile phones, put extremely flat screens up on our walls. Something nobody would have conceived of in the eighties. We communicate via social media with people all over the world. It’s incredible how interconnected the world has become. Our time travelers would never have been able to predict these kinds of developments. Today, 99.9 percent of all people cannot imagine what sorts of revolutions we will witness in the next ten to fifteen years.  

And that’s where Incari enters the picture?

We want to take digitization, the access to computer systems, human-machine interaction to a level where machines become less important and humans are in charge. Technologies have to serve mankind and not the other way round. We have to retake control of our data. We have to be able to decide how we want to exercise control. 

Do you have a specific image of the future in mind? Or do you rather focus on user experience, the emotions that people experience when using a product?

It’s a mix of both. On the one hand, I want to define the direction into which we’re going. On the other hand, the technological constraints of today do of course have an impact. We’re imagining an ideal towards which we could and should develop. But I don’t presume that our ideas and concepts are the only correct path. 

What will our experience with cars look like in five or ten years’ time?

If we still have experiences with cars at all. [laughs]

“We want to help make human-machine interaction seem like magic, not like technology.”
Are you referring to cars or mobility in general?

I think that individual mobility and cars will still be perceived in the same way as today ten years from now. We are seeing incredible progress in the field of drones, for example. Not only because of Covid. It’s all about another approach towards the necessity of traveling. Do we still need vehicles for individual mobility? Will there only be buses because nobody will be traveling from A to B on their own? Will we have altogether new possibilities for spending time in other spaces? These questions remain unanswered. It would be very pessimistic to assume that today’s status quo will not have changed at all in ten years’ time.

Aren’t things moving too fast for any status quo?

When Amazon or Google were founded, nobody would have imagined the digital revolution of the past twenty years. Twenty years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. Today, communication practically doesn’t work without these platforms. I think that the next decade will be a decade of dramatic changes in the perception of mobility and its practical implementation. I don’t dare to make any predictions concerning the future of cars in the next ten to fifteen years. Things will change dramatically, that’s for sure.

Is the automotive industry prepared for these dramatic changes?

Unfortunately not. There’s a lack of imagination that prevents them from starting real transformative processes. Energy is one aspect. But not the only one. Autonomous means of transport may bring about another disruption. And it won’t be the last.

“The times in which we had everything and used everything excessively are coming to an end. But I don’t think that this means a reduction in the quality of our lives.”
But aren’t cars always associated with emotions?

Cars are still status symbols today. But if that’s no longer the case, the aesthetics of cars won’t play a role, either. When I drive around town in a Ferrari today, my friends will be impressed. And if that’s no longer the case, Ferrari will only remain attractive for motorsports fans. That’s a much smaller group of people. If you’re no longer able to experience speed yourself on highways and there are no car races any more, the interest will go on to shrink. If it’s no longer important for the automotive industry to build aesthetically attractive cars, functionality will become the only thing that counts – and that takes me back to buses. A car for only two people is clearly less functional than a vehicle for fifty passengers. And all of a sudden, the bus is more attractive than the sports car. This change in perception has already started. Laws on environmental protection will contribute to making cars smaller. So that we no longer have to move two tons in order to be able to transport a person of eighty kilos. The next questions will then be: why don’t we use e-bikes or other electrified means of transport? And what about beaming? I think that many aspects of cars will be challenged.

The topic of user experience is very emotional – it’s all about intense experiences. How will it make us feel if we perceive cars in a purely rational way, if functionality becomes the only thing that counts? What about the aspect of individualism?

We’re talking about two different topics here: cars and mobility. People want to remain mobile. But maybe mobility doesn’t mean any longer that we drive all the way from Berlin to Hamburg to have a blast. Maybe, we’ll just go by bike to Berlin’s surroundings. I’m still mobile, but I don’t have to drive 250 kilometers. Traveling means broadening our horizons. That’s not going to change. The way in which we travel is going to change, however. Curious people will still travel to the other side of the world to experience other cultures – and they will do so much more con­­sciously. Today people travel to Singapore only to eat the same schnitzel as in Germany. Beaches have to be as clean and tidy as the beaches at the North Sea, including the typical beach chairs. People don’t want things to be different, they just want to experience the things they know in a different location. Just to tick off another item on their list of travel destinations. When traveling becomes more expensive and people are then only able to afford going to distant countries once or twice in their lives, they’ll choose very wisely where they want to go. In the foreign countries, they’ll walk a lot to meet as many people as possible, to experience cultural exchange. Trav­eling won’t be about lying on the beach for two weeks on end, but about two weeks of experienc­­ing foreign cultures and exchanges with people. Maybe people will even learn languages to be able to better understand the differences between cultures. The times in which we had everything and used everything excessively are coming to an end. I don’t think that this means a reduction in the quality of our lives. Some environmentalists make it sound as if it was all about not having fun any more.

What’s your perspective on life?

Mankind will be faced with a difficult transformation. Today, everyone wants to have as much as possible. Instantly. But we’re living on a planet with limited resources. So we’ll have to share these resources. Everyone will have to use their resources in a more conscious and more targeted way.

Michael Köckritz

Michael Köckritz

Editor in Chief
As a journalist, author, artist and media maker, Michael Köckritz succeeds time and again in creating both attention-grabbing and sustainably stimulating impulses in the context of contemporary and future topics as well as lifestyle and luxury worlds. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he has realised a whole series of book and lifestyle magazine formats that have regularly won numerous national and international awards over the years. The car culture magazine ramp, the men's lifestyle magazine rampstyle and the design magazine ramp.design are published internationally and are considered style-setting.
ramp #56 Alles zu seiner Zeit

ramp #56 Alles zu seiner Zeit

Alle Entscheidungshysteriker müssen jetzt tapfer sein, die Bewohner der Führungsetagen der Wirtschaftswelt sowieso. Denn nirgends ist die Kultur eines besinnungslosen Aktionismus so endemisch wie hier.

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