Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the 2013 Radio Show Exhibitors rolled out the connected cars, dashboards chock full of touchscreens and hand buttons to make the driver, well, more connected.
In the race to have more mobility, be better informed, and accomplish more in the same amount of time, consumers will likely find that a connected car is the next-gen mobile solution they have subconsciously been waiting for.
According to ABI Research, the number of new vehicles with telematics will increase globally from 10 percent in 2011 to 53 percent in 2016. Today, AT&T has provided several innovative features for new car models: an M2M connected engine to diagnose car problems, wireless infotainment systems, traffic information network services, family speed limit tracking, wireless signaled car doors, transmitting airbags, smartphone-controlled remote car applications, and construction site alert systems. These features already offer the driver a significantly larger amount of control over how he or she spends time in the car and in how every mobile device in the driver’s possession is being honed for optimal interoperability.
Are We There Yet?
The connected car is not quite a “smart car” yet, but by our measurements that may be a good thing. Sprint and Apple car programs are still in their beta stages, with the Apple voice command program, Siri, being integrated into the Chevy Sonic, and Sprint utilizing its background in telematics for fleet management to create offerings for consumers to collect data from their car into the cloud. Nissan’s development of the Nismo Watch will one day use a driver’s biometrics to tailor driving and safety to whoever is behind the wheel. AT&T also imagines the future of the connected car, including vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity and embedded global wireless Internet access.
In addition, until there is a standard infotainment system and user interface, a car’s in-dash screen cannot display information from a car owner’s portable device. At the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles last week, from November 19 through November 21, a panel brought together representatives from the auto industry and the industry for infotainment interfaces to discuss whether there will be a standard system present in the near future, or whether the various models will continue to enter the market.
Imagine alerts sent from one vehicle to another, warning of traffic accidents up ahead. Think of the amount of work and play that could be accomplished with both Wi-Fi Hot Spot and 4G connectivity services available in the car for drivers and passengers.
After all, we want to be safer and more productive in our cars, as indicated in Harman’s first “Driving the Connected Consumer” survey. Seven out of ten respondents indicated that they want voice controls to make phone calls and navigation tools easier to use. Eighty-three percent said they want a connected car’s navigation system to deliver real-time traffic updates, and 64 percent want to access Internet music-streaming sites.
How Far Could This Take Us?
Juniper Research indicates that nearly 100 million connected cars will be on the road in 2016. Right now, it is basically anyone’s game. The connected car presents opportunities for competition and innovation by small businesses and MBWEs, whether they are already-existing enterprises or new market entrants. Large corporations in telecommunications and the automotive industry could foster important relationships with entrepreneurs due to their creative abilities and potential to pinpoint and develop niches within the connected car market.
The Covisint-sponsored study, conducted by CGS Advisors, indicated that other industries will likely enter the connected car marketplace to provide the most cutting-edge devices and services at low costs. The study also noted that telecommunications businesses are in an optimal position for entering this market, considering their areas of media expertise in relation to risk averse original equipment manufacturers.
- Amber Robinson is staff counsel at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. She graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, where she worked for a semester in the public interest law firm Institute of Public Representation, conducting policy research and writing for media and consumer protection clients.