Connected cars are coming – are you ready?

The challenge for car makers and developers is to make the in-car experience feel complimentary and personal, writes Sarah Stringer.

 

Last month, Chevy announced that it would launch 4G across nine cars in its range by 2015, allowing for up to seven wireless devices to be connected to the car at once and producing a whole new connected in-car ecosystem.

According to Peter Skillman, head of design at Nokia Business unit HERE, in his SXSW session ‘Design for Drivers: The Optimal Connected Car’ there are 23 million cars already connected to the internet in the US and this is expected to grow to an astonishing 152 million cars by 2020.

He raised an important question: ‘If cars are fundamental in most people’s lives, why are we are still trying to force fit a mobile phone interface and functionality into cars to become part of this connected world?’

The crux question, of course, is why?

Innovation in media and hardware technology has always led us to try to replicate traditional formats on new platforms. The easy comparison to make here is newspapers into online portals. Although we know iPad and mobile editions serve brand loyalists, the emergence of Australian platforms such as Junkee and Pedestrian.tv show that audiences – particularly a younger demographic – want a new tone of voice, in a new bite-size format, relevant to the platform they are reading (most likely a mobile phone or laptop).

In a similar insight, Skillman suggests the reason people love their mobile is due to the personal content and the fact that the mobile phone is the perfect aggregate of everything that you care about, a truly personal experience: “No two phones are alike; it’s a reflection of your personality, your interests and your life…”

The challenge is for car manufacturers and software developers to use this insight to their advantage, allowing for a more personalised and truly complimentary in-car experience.

The vision for connected cars is to aggregate the user’s content, behaviour and account, regardless of the system. For instance, a car should be able to facilitate whatever map system a consumer prefers, whatever music system, and personalise and improve the driving experience based on learned behaviour to make for a safer and streamlined in-car experience.

Numerous brands could build services and systems to complement a connected car experience.  The mobility and personal space created by a car provides endless opportunities to create brand new experiences for non-auto services. Car manufacturers could become media outlets in their own right, with hyper-targeted advertising platforms, connected consumers to local services, or contextually relevant brands.

Most importantly, the data that can be collected from connected vehicles can help cities plan their physical infrastructure, improve roads, and most importantly keep people safer with technology in their car.

Connected cars should facilitate a positive departure from what we currently see on the roads: people with smartphones in their laps, pretending not to text, getting lost, or, unfortunately, worse.

Viva technology!

 

Sarah Stringer is Carat’s innovations director.