The Evolution of the Intelligent Car

Nowadays, we spend a lot of time in our cars. A LOT. The average American, according to Anne Lutz Fernandez (author of Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives), we spend more than 18 hours every week in our car. That's a lot of time behind the wheel. Doesn't it make sense that the next mobile platform is, well, really mobile, like, has wheels and moves? Enter the smart car.

Currently, there is a lot of talks in the press regarding connected vehicles. Having smarts in your car is not a new thing. Diagnostic data that measures the health of your vehicle has been around for more than a decade; moreover, it has been more than ten years since we started plugging our iPods into cigarette lighters to charge-up and play, and GPS for location services is essential for long trips.

So why is there so much talk now? It comes down to three things:

  • Consumer Acceptance
  • Connectivity
  • Technology

With these three pieces in place, we can start to see what the next generation of a "smart car" will look like.

Consumer Acceptance

In many ways, the toughest challenge for any change is culture. Peter Drucker famously quoted that "culture will each strategy for lunch," and he's correct. It doesn't matter how great a technology solution is if we, as consumers, have no understanding of how that technology will change our lives. Microsoft is a poster-child for solutions that came out before their time: tablets, smartwatches, streaming music, and touch interfaces, for example. Each technology was a good idea, but when Microsoft launched Windows XP for Tablets, the SPOT Watch, Zune Music Service, and the Surface table, these were solutions looking for a problem.

The timing is now ripe for the smart car. Think about it. How often do you get in the car and pair or plug your smartphone into the radio? I am English and live in the USA, but I love my London radio shows. Now, when I jump into my car, I listen to British radio through my phone.

We have reached a point where it makes sense to have smarter vehicles. Let's ditch connecting a phone to my car. I want to hear BBC Radio natively from my car.

Connectivity

This brings me to the second part of the puzzle—connectivity. A big part of the success of smartphones is that they are always connected to the internet. You do not think twice about listening to Pandora, checking email, or posting to Facebook. The same level of connectivity must be in your smart car.

But there is a second challenge—groups of people in your car. How often do you drive your car with yourself and at least one other person? That other person may have a tablet that they want to use while you are driving (like streaming Dora the Explorer to your three-year-old in the back seat). The car has to double duty for connectivity: it must first be able to connect to a 4G/LTE signal and, second, broadcast that same signal via Wi-Fi to all passengers. Not an easy trick to do when you are driving along at 65 MPH on the highway.

A third trick your car needs to be able to do is communicate its surroundings to other vehicles. You already see vehicle-to-vehicle communication with tools such as the Waze traffic control app, which is now integrated with Google Maps (vehicles report when the car is stuck in traffic and reports the data back to Google Maps so that you can get alternative directions). The next step is to have vehicles communicate with each other directly. The benefits are huge—vehicles will react to each other to avoid car accidents by sensing each other in different lanes. We're now moving closer to the pervasiveness of a self-driving car.

A smart radio for your car is one step. The next step is to connect to the diagnostics of your vehicle to measure the health of your car. Car manufacturers now provide features to effectively give you information to anticipate when a fix needs to be applied to your car. Preventative maintenance is always cheaper than reactive maintenance, after all.

Technology

In many ways, the third element making the connected vehicle a reality is already here and ready for use—technology.

The interest in putting technology in the car has been around for years. This year alone has seen the launch of Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android-based Open Automotive Alliance technologies.

These technologies do have a huge hurdle to cross in that we can not have distractions in the car as we drive. Phone texting is now considered more dangerous than drunk driving. Safety must be the first consideration for all new technology added to the car.

To me, it is clear that the next mobile platform will be your car. Either through a new purchase or radio upgrade, we will all soon be driving highly connected computers with wheels. What are your thoughts on smart cars?

Stay on Top of the Technology Revolution

While smart cars are becoming more pervasive, there are plenty of disciplines you can learn to start an exciting career developing the technologies to enable them. Connectivity is key, as well as smart sensors, so one great place to start is with Simplilearn's Introduction to IoT Training Course. If you're a business stakeholder in the field and are having a hard time finding the right talent, you can always upskill your employees or candidates by providing them training through our Corporate Training programs, too.

About the Author

Matthew DavidMatthew David

Matt is a Digital Leader at Accenture. His passion is a combination of solving today's problems to run more efficiently, adjusting focus to take advantage of digital tools to improve tomorrow and move organizations to new ways of working that impact the future.

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