The vision for the Connected Car is to bring the Internet into the car, adapting to the specifics of that environment. While the term was coined some time ago, it is often unclear what is meant by the Connected Car: here we outline the Carmesh vision for the Connected Car and some of the issues that arise.
In Carmesh, we view the car as the extension of your digital life. When you enter the car, digital engagement transfers seamlessly to the new context. This means many things – key aspects include:
- easy integration between navigation and activity in digital world e.g. places you talk about on chat, friend’s addresses in social networks, meeting locations in calendaring services, etc;
- integration between mobile device(s) and auto context, as mobile device is (one) home for much of this information;
- integration between specific apps which make sense in the automotive context (eg Facebook timeline, Google Maps with traffic etc) leveraging automotive interface components;
- extensibility – it’s possible to add new applications to the automotive context which can take information for different sources – mounted cameras, sensor information, location and analytics of driver behaviour, personalized fuel efficiency, etc
While it is possible to articulate such a high level vision – and indeed, many subscribe to this vision – in a coherent manner, the reality is that this will be realized in a much less singular fashion. Aspects of this vision will appear in places and there will be differing degrees of ‘connectedness’.
Challenges associated with realizing this vision include:
- Large heterogeneity in the automotive context and little work on making standardized automotive platforms meaning that each auto vendor has different view on realizing the Connected Car;
- Long car lifetime, meaning that cars shipping today which have little support for the Connected Car will be on the road for about 10 years – some aftermarket solutions are necessary in this case;
- Heterogeneity in wireless connectivity – different cars will have different wireless interfaces, some with advanced cellular, some with less advanced cellular, some with Wifi etc.;
- Heterogeneity in automotive interface components – some cars will have basic in-car displays, some will have more advanced graphic displays and some will have on screen projectors
The vision which is increasingly being understood by the auto industry is that the mobile must play a significant role in the automotive context. The mobile device can run apps which are tailored to the automotive context. Cars will have varying degrees of support for mobile integration – for those cars that have little, the experience will be entirely dominated by the phone. Those cars that have a good mobile integration solution will be well received in the market with consumers increasingly interested in advanced in-car automotive services.
With Juniper Research recently forecasting that the automotive applications market should reach $800m by 2017 , it is clear that the Connected Car offers significant opportunity. However, to realize a society in which our digital world integrates seamlessly with our automotive experience, automotive platforms need to become more uniform for developers to be able to deploy in car apps without needing to deal with the idiosyncracies of each manufacturer and varying functionalities offered by different models.