The automotive industry is now a key information hub in the mobile and social data ecosystem. As cars create more behavioral data, they will become tools for predictive analyses, offer optimization, and transform themselves into a form of alternative media. That is the promise of the connected car, as connectivity will bring interactive media into the car, enhanced safety and driving services and and even autonomous driving. That was the topic of discussion at CE Week’s The Internet Of Things And Cars Panel as technologists from Telenav, GM, Intel and more took to the stage. Below are a few topics during the panel.
Convenience over Safety
The session kicked off with an interesting poll which asked what the main driver of the internet of things in the car will be. What would lead consumers to want ultimate connectivity in their cars? The poll actually saw convenience as the number one driver far outpacing safety, security, and added utility which was a bit surprising. Safety and security have to be the most important consideration within any car (it is for the connected home at least) but perhaps we believe that the internet of things will bring us convenience before anything else. Ultimately, changing the safety features of a car is far more involved, so we may just get a better suite of car-friendly apps first.
Another main point of interest was the roadblocks to innovation, namely the long development cycle of most auto manufacturers. Tim Nixon, GM’s CTO of Global Connected Consumer division mentioned that most dev cycles are three years so that technology is inherently outdated by the time a car goes to market, compared with the agility of mobile innovation, for instance. One solve for this is aftermarket items like a Pioneer radio, for example, which can be installed on a 10 year old car. Another interesting consideration is the necessity to create open APIs in the car which third party developers can iterate on. This is seen with through the likes of Mojio and others who provide a data stream of your driving behavior which third parties can leverage for a breadth of products and services. Ford Sync is another example with a somewhat open app ecosystem. More significant is Apple Airplay and Google’s Automotive Alliance which will create a standard OS for in-car apps. This cooperation is unfortunately uncommon in a highly competitive industry full of proprietary technology.
The panel concluded with a discussion of autonomous driving. These driverless cars will use car-to-car communication, connectivity and sensors to safely drive without the need for any human input. Google and every car manufacturer has been testing prototypes but we are still a ways away from this entering the consumer market. The panelists all remarked on some of the considerations to actualizing autonomous vehicles. Chief among the concerns were connectivity issues as you have a wide array of mapping and sensing technology which relies on a stable connection. GM and AT&T announced a partnership to build 4G LTE connectivity into upcoming Chevrolet vehicles with a wifi hotspot. Others will need to follow suit if we expect all of these smart car features.