The connected car is not the future, it is the present
When we talk about connected cars we always think about the future, about something that has to come many years from now. But the reality is that it has been with us for years, even though there is still a lot of scope for innovation in this sector.
A connected vehicle is a vehicle with a connection that makes possible to interact with it without having to be physically present, or having to physically interact with it despite being inside. More and more connected cars are taking advantage of the increase in smartphones and applications available to interact with the car from any distance.
Users can open and/or close their car, check the status of the battery or tank, see the available autonomy, search for recharging points, find their vehicle based on the last known location, remotely activate the air conditioning before entering the vehicle, etc.
For several years, the big brands in the automotive sector have invested heavily in developing smart and permanently connected vehicles, along with the help of large technology companies. Everyday things that we use today such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are also the result of years of research and development done by these companies. Being able to drive and send a WhatsApp or ask Siri to play a certain song for us is undoubtedly a connected car experience.
More and more vehicles are incorporating mobile data to be able to permanently report their status. Because of the systems that major brands use to synchronize the information of their vehicles, it is possible to obtain large-scale information on many topics: traffic, maintenance status, aggregated data on journeys, etc. The business of large automakers will no longer be in continuous vehicle manufacturing, but in service companies and anonymized data sales (Big Data).
The connected car not only connects the driver and the passengers with their vehicle, but also the car with its surroundings. Cars that interact with traffic lights or that can drive autonomously because of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are already a reality today. There is still a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to autonomous driving.
With the emergence of the electric car, the connected car has definitely come to stay as it is part of something vital: the change in mentality that involves moving from a conventional combustion car to an electric one. Who has never left the car in the sun in the middle of August and then cooled it to the maximum when they returned? This type of situation can spoil the autonomy of an electric vehicle since the air conditioning requires a lot of energy.
Nowadays practically all the brands that have electric cars on the market have applications to remotely air-condition the vehicles while they are connected to a charging station, so that we have it at the ideal temperature when we go to work or on a weekend getaway.
New functionalities for these permanently connected vehicles. Surely, the main one will be the arrival of the digital key and it will be one of the biggest changes that consumers will notice.
Who has not gone to surf or to the beach and has wished not to have to take the car key? It is usually quite common to forget that we carry it in our pocket and that causes it to end up getting wet accidentally. With the digital key, this will no longer happen because we could open our car with our smartphone.
Large automakers and large technology companies have been working on a forum called the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) to define what the universal access digital key should be like. Recently, Apple has announced that the first brand to have this iPhone-compatible technology will be BMW, but more will come in the future. In the case of Android, some brands have already offered this technology for a few years but it is only compatible with certain models; it is highly likely that some standard solution will end up being adopted just as in the case of Apple.
At Opentrends we have participated in several connected car projects and we have extensive experience in this sector. Some examples are:
- Applications for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: We have developed applications that extract data from the vehicle and help the user to improve their driving and maximize their efficiency.
- Carpooling apps: We have also implemented carsharing and ridesharing solutions, an upward trend today.
- Remote access applications: we have contributed to implementing remote access solutions to vehicle information using mobile data.
- Infotainment system applications: We have worked on projects to implement voice assistants and other applications to vehicle infotainment systems.
There are still many business opportunities available in this sector, and some examples of them are:
- Payment of regulated parking and reservation of parking spaces from the vehicle itself.
- Order and collection of fast food and/or weekly purchase in the supermarket, also from the vehicle itself.
- Route planners on long trips with manual or automatic programming of stops to reduce driver fatigue.
- Consultation of charging stations for electric vehicles or service stations with special or unusual fuels (eg compressed natural gas).
- Management of usual charging points and payment for recharging from the infotainment system itself.
- Real-time information on the car routes that are being carried out (with anonymous and aggregated data) in order to carry out specific or exclusive marketing campaigns, among many other options.
- Optimization of delivery routes with real-time information and fleet management.
- New paradigms of urban mobility and substitution of public transport for shared transport.
If you have a project in mind where communication with the vehicle is crucial or you believe that you can bring a new experience to the connected car, we can certainly help you and walk with you towards success.
Author: Cristian Ortega