We live in a world where technology evolves at an exponential pace. As consumers and businesses, we have two choices: be silent observers of these changes or use them for our benefit. For the mobility industry, this change is called the connected car.
But what value can the connected car bring to your life and to your business? And how long will you wait to embrace it?
What is the connected car?
The connected car is the collection of data from the vehicle, the processing of it and the surrounding application ecosystem. At the same time, this two-way connectivity can be used to send data and information back to the car. Part of the wider shift is the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the way we live, work, and play.
At its heart is the ability to collect data about, and from, the vehicle and share that with other devices in and around it. This can include the vehicle’s GPS location, information about how it is driven, such as speed and acceleration, the engine and sensors in the vehicle measuring the status of temperature, brakes, oil level, battery, and more.
When it comes to sending information back to the car, the connection can be used to send real-time data about traffic, speed cameras, weather, fuel price, hazards or the availability of parking and EV charging points.
It is the very nature of a two-way connection that allows for content updates in the car, such as to the infotainment software or maps. It can also be used for making transactions – ordering, reserving and booking, for example – from in-vehicle commerce applications.
The benefits of the connected car
All these developments need information, derived from car data and real-time connectivity, brought together in platforms that can normalize it and easy user interfaces to consume the end results.
This is where the connected car comes in.
Using this data, applications can be developed to deliver a range of benefits to drivers, owners, and to the industry that serves them. These include everything from enhanced audio entertainment, smartphone apps and navigation, to roadside assistance, contextual help or offers (e.g. automatic fuel promotion alerts when your tank is nearly empty from a nearby petrol station, or automatic payment at a fast food drive-in), parking apps and vehicle diagnostics.
Companies like Microsoft and Webfleet Solutions have platforms that already allow for such third-party application development of new mobility services.
A crucial part of the way we experience navigation is knowing we can park our car as near to our destination as possible. To do this, we must first ensure we can find suitable parking options near that place.
However, the fact that there is a parking spot in a certain area does not mean it will be available when the time comes to park. Knowing the availability status of a parking spot ahead of time does not only help relieve stress for the driver, but also reduce the emissions that would have been generated while driving around in search of a free parking spot.
On-street parking and payments
After finding a parking spot on the street, it might be that you have to pay for the time you use it. One way to simplify this process is to use connectivity to automatically make the payment. Instead of checking your pockets for change, your connected car could already start the process using several data sources in the car.
Here is how it would look: The car GPS signal could detect when there is no movement, as well as identify the payment area it is in. The connected car would also know when the engine is off, windows are closed, parking brake is on and doors are locked. Putting these pieces of information together would lead to knowing whether the car is parked or not.
Doing this process automatically saves time and reduces the risk of a fine.
Another trend that requires connectivity for its success is electric driving. As battery capacity and fast charging are still in their inception, range anxiety is the first challenge electric vehicle (EV) drivers will encounter. Worrying about having enough power to reach a destination or whether a charging point will be available or not upon arrival is a real struggle standing in the way of widespread EV adoption.
The connected car can alleviate some of these problems.
To be able to calculate reachable range, a number of factors come into play: battery status, road elevation, and current weather conditions, to name a few. A connected car can provide some of the information required to do this complex calculation, but can also process it in the cloud, where it is done much faster than in the car, where the processing power is limited.
Moreover, if a car cannot reach its destination on one charge only, connectivity can help the driver understand where the nearest charging points are along the route, and whether any are available or can be pre-booked. A connected car can even make the payment.
What the future holds
Connected vehicle data will ensure new developments for smarter logistics and powering smarter cities. Without the connected car, drivers will not be able to realize new developments in mobility. Now with more partnerships between automotive and cloud technology providers, new applications can be created based on in-depth connected car data, always making privacy a priority.
Ultimately, connected services give road users access to the most relevant and real-time information, from traffic to parking, speed cameras or information tailored specifically for electric vehicles, towards an autonomous future.
Note: This is a guest blog by George de Boer is the Global Director of Marketing at TomTom