In a world where a growing number of objects are connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s hardly a surprise that the automotive industry is buzzing about the “connected, intelligent vehicle.” The car is the next big device and technology for the vehicle currently falls into two broad categories:
- Tools for vehicle safety, or
- Tools for infotainment
In either case, offering these tools is an opportunity for companies to monetize this new, connected market—in the purchase of the equipment, and in the ongoing maintenance and operation. Many of the carmakers and tier one suppliers in the auto industry are welcoming innovative companies that have specialized technology skills. The main skill set of car makers are around building a car. That opens up opportunity for contractors to become part of a team to provide intellectual property that may be licensed along with their vehicles.
Developers working on the safety side are effectively contributing to a safer driving experience. New technologies help automakers manufacture cars that can communicate with the world around them with wireless connectivity. While some people think about an intelligent car as a driverless car, there’s more to it. The whole world is really focused on trying to reduce the number of traffic fatalities. It’s still very high worldwide, and there’s only so many airbags you can put in a car.
So that had led to a focus on onboard technology to essentially contribute to and share the results of a common database. Where is traffic backed up? Where is there road construction? Are weather conditions changing or dangerous? What problems can I avoid with a simple route adjustment?
Providing this type of information that contributes to greater safety and reduced accidents is where the opportunity lies for developers.
On the infotainment side, vehicles are fundamentally about mobility and people want that experience to be enjoyable. Most consumers see great value in entertainment, so they are willing to pay to get movies and music and other kinds of media in their car. We’re seeing this again and again, and it’s really opening up a whole new supply chain for a developer to participate with the automotive industry.
But it’s a double-edged sword because the more visual stimulation that comes into a vehicle, the greater likelihood of a distracted driver. However, consumers and developers are all interested in finding creative approaches.
For example, maybe a driver would like to make table reservations at a local restaurant using a voice interface to communicate with another existing consumer service like Open Table. Maybe developers offer an app and charge a fee or royalty. Or sell valuable backend technology that makes this process work.
The key point to recognize is that business opportunity in the automotive world is going to be influenced by the increasing availability of technology in the hands of the consumer. But we always have to try to read ahead on where the marketplace will go because it takes three to five years to develop a car. So if I have a great idea today, it’s going show up in a car in 2017 or 2018, which may be too late to still be a great idea.
What the marketplace will tell us in the next few years is whether we are effectively providing an accessory to the consumers’ computing environment, or we are channeling our energy into making the car itself much more intelligent.
What questions do you have? I’ll be at the Connected Car Expo next week in Los Angeles and a panelist for the discussion “Infotainment Standard Time – One for All or Every Automaker for Themselves?” November 19, 8:50 – 9:25 AM PDT, Meeting Room 403 A&B.