Connected Cars: How Their Evolution Impacts Consumers & Businesses
Connected cars keep getting more advanced and less exclusive. Features used to be limited to luxury car brands and expensive upgrades but over time, basic connectivity features have become more standard and ubiquitous among brands. As the technology evolves, it raises questions about what makes them so popular, what’s possible, what impact they’ll have, and what precautions are necessary. Let’s dive deeper into these topics for more detail.
First Things First, What Are Connected Cars?
Connected cars are vehicles connected to the internet. What they can do with that connection depends on individual factors like the make, model, and year. Some examples of these capabilities include:
- Transferring data
- Downloading software
- Communicating & integrating with devices
- Supplying Wi-Fi
- Detecting performance issues & maintenance needs
Those are just the basic abilities that lay the foundation for the rest. The more they evolve, the more fun and complex the features get.
The Luxury of Entertainment & Convenience
After practical needs, entertainment and convenience are two of the biggest themes in connected cars. Having a premium entertainment system and all the latest features to make life a little easier provides an air of luxury. Convenience and entertainment features are growing so popular that some are becoming increasingly standard. Quality entertainment systems with high-end speakers and digital displays are increasingly expected, prompting most brands to offer at least a few models with Apple Carplay & Android Auto. On top of that, you can pay for premium options too.
Luxury brands offer deluxe features to increase automation and provide extra convenience and peace ofmind. BMW ConnectedDrive, for example, integrates your devices and apps to get you to appointments on time using your calendar to see where you need to go and when, finding the best route, then notifying you at the ideal time to leave based on expected travel time given your car’s location and current traffic conditions. Additional features can be added via SaaS devices as well. Pretty much any platform, app, entertainment/media, tool, or feature you can think of can be integrated into these fully loaded infotainment systems.
What to Expect Moving Forward
We’ve all seen the hyper-futuristic visions of completely autonomous personal vehicles in a world where everything is automatic, AI-controlled, voice-activated, and on-demand. Well, that’s actually not that far off. Let’s talk about predictions for the near future and the eventual future we’re moving towards.
Integrated smart speakers will keep growing more popular and advanced, making more tasks hands-free. Apps to control the locks and ignition could make keys all but obsolete. Also, personalization will be a continued theme. A growing number of models save your preferences in your driver profile, so your settings are always right no matter who drove it last. With time, they’ll become more advanced, possibly using facial recognition or fingerprints to unlock and start the car with your profile loaded and you’ll likely be able to transfer your profile between vehicles, even across manufacturers.
There are also some foundational breakthroughs with the versatility to evolve into and inspire our most important technological developments for decades to come. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity will allow cars to communicate, sharing travel time, road conditions, hazards, available parking, and more. V2V, eventually becoming V2X—Vehicle-to-Everything—in the future, will likely lead to cars being able to communicate with everything from other cars (V2V) and pedestrians (V2P) to 5G networks (V2N) and surrounding infrastructure (V2I). They’ll send safety warnings to passing cyclists, detect safety hazards, communicate with road sensors and traffic lights, detect and pay tolls, and so much more.
Other significant advances include huge leaps forward in self-driving technology. Autonomous vehicles (AV) for ride-hailing, public transportation, and eventually personal use are predicted to advance within the decade. The Cruise Origin is a great example of the AV possibilities. These fully autonomous ride-hailing vehicles make up one of the first self-driving services. It’s safe, comfortable, stylish, affordable, and 100% electric and emission-free.
They’re already functional in San Francisco and other companies are working on similar models. AV technology is now road-tested and approved but as several companies develop AV ride-hailing, they’ll likely become widely available and advance quickly. AV investment is also predicted to explode to over half a trillion dollars within 5 years.
Impact on Safety and Security
These advancements will affect safety and security in positive and negative ways. Some of the safety improvements are impressive. The ability to complete most tasks using increasingly hands-free and voice-activated systems eliminates many of the reasons drivers take their eyes off the road.
V2V technology presents the biggest safety benefits. If all vehicles were equipped with it, an estimated 80% of all accidents not caused by alcohol or mechanical failure could be prevented. Drivers would be alerted to danger and other safety features could even stop the car to prevent a crash. The majority of everyday collisions could be eliminated.
There are some risks as well. Having so many devices linked together by V2V/V2X, always sending, receiving, and analyzing data, would create security issues. This data would include our preferences, location, contacts, routines, payment information, and much more. We must improve security to ensure this sensitive data is protected by both encryption and legislation regarding collection, storage, and use.
Impact on Business
This technology is creating entirely new industries, and new spins on old ones, benefiting companies and consumers. SaaS subscriptions like FordPass Smartlink will become more common, car manufacturers can collect more accurate data for future improvements, and the insurance industry can base prices on actual driving habits. Also, ACCESS CO., LTD has joined forces with DW to create a cross-device infotainment platform called ACCESS Twine™ for Car (Twine4Car).
One perfect example of everything coming together is the Cruise Origin. Many of these features tie into the ideas we’ve been discussing. They used new technology to create an innovative connected AV for a new spin on an old service by providing a safer, more convenient and luxurious experience.
These changes are also expected to increase worker productivity by making cars part of the workplace and linking employees to communication and productivity tools no matter where they are. Once autopilot is available, the commute will become even more efficient.
This one industry will create growth in countless others and lead to vast improvements in customer experience. As different features advance and combine in new ways, expect to see more brilliant yet unexpected partnerships.
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