The contents under the hood of a car have always been one of the topmost priorities for the world’s leading automakers. After all, a car’s primary purpose has typically been safely shepherding us from Point A to Point B. But automakers understand that in today’s world of connectivity and instant gratification, cars need to evolve from simply being a vehicle between destinations to another outlet for staying connected to our ever-expanding networks.
As a result, our cars are becoming the next key component of our digital lifestyles, which for us means that when we slide into the driver’s seat, we don’t have to kick our world of applications, content, and services to the curb.
This is the new frontier for automakers: Optimizing everything from basic services like text messaging and email to popular applications like music streaming and Facebook for our driving experiences. After all, you can’t slap a “One size fits all” sticker on our interactions with devices. We consistently stare at our TVs and smartphones. We don’t have this luxury when it comes to our in-car systems. Connectivity can never come at the expense of safety, which is why automakers are establishing ways of presenting and delivering this content that allow us to safely stay focused on the road.
So, what types of content and services should automakers focus on? Is it up to us to determine that? Surely we make enough birds angry and crush enough candy during the other parts of our days. As one might hope would be the case, what we seem to value most from our connected cars are apps, content and services related to our driving experience (sorry, Temple Run). According to a recent survey of 1,000 US drivers, three of the five most-valued in-car services are navigation (who likes getting lost?), live traffic updates and alerts (who likes high blood pressure?), and music control (who doesn’t like to turn the radio up on the open road?).
Establishing what we want in our cars is a crucial first step, but it pales in comparison to actually delivering the needed solutions. This is when automakers and technology companies need to gather at the same table to break some bread and cross a few wires. The way that we stay connected in the car cannot be the same way that we stay connected via our phones, computers and TVs. Finding the right solution is an industry-wide initiative, encompassing many of the world’s leading automakers and technology companies. With those survey results in mind, here are three elements of the connected car that are currently under the microscope:
Consider this: You’re leaving work and search for a traffic update on your phone. Details are provided, along with suggested alternate routes home. You should be able to get into your car, have the vehicle and smartphone automatically link, and have the same traffic and navigation information automatically relayed to you via the in-car system. Closely tied to the range of applications, content and services optimized for the car will be a seamless experience with other devices.
We’re used to having options when it comes to information, content and entertainment (otherwise known as infotainment). There are now multiple sources for practically everything – search, music, weather updates, sport scores – and we’ll want these available in our cars. Automakers, technology companies and content providers need to harness the power of apps and services and refine them to appropriately suit the in-car environment. Applications that are popular today might not be as highly demanded by drivers two years from now. There has to be a simple way of bringing new apps and content into the car, without having to replace the whole system or forcing the driver to visit a local garage.
Like many other devices, cars are already benefiting from voice interfaces, and, with so many elements factoring into the driving experience, there’s growing potential for even more possibilities. Simply asking for traffic updates, directions, or the latest song from Coldplay is more convenient, and potentially safer, than sifting through the links and icons associated with a touchscreen. As more and more services and offerings extend into the car, expect voice to be solidified as the resource for accessing and navigating the in-car system.
As technology continues to advance and more players enter the space, we will see robust growth in connected car offerings. It’ll be crucial for automakers, technology companies, and even consumers to collectively offer their visions and preferences for these advanced vehicles. This mutual collaboration will soon advance seamless experiences across our cars and other devices, make preferred content and services conveniently accessible, and deliver a dynamic user interface for natural interactions.