In the past few years, we have seen rapid changes in both Automotive and Wireless technologies. These advancements have enabled the automobile to extend the driving experience beyond traditional transport. Entries in this category will focus on solutions that consumers can use while in the car (automobile). The entries will address problems that improve Driver Safety and Productivity and Infotainment. Students should think about the various problems and enhancements they would like to see addressed in their daily lives as they spend time in the car. Usability will the key in this category as the focus must be on limiting Driver Distraction while maximizing the Driving Experience.
Consumers (drivers) expect to use the car to do more than ferry them from point A to point B. They now expect the car to be a platform that plugs into their existing lifestyle. They want the car to be safer, more productive and more entertaining. Towards this end, car manufacturers and their vendors are focussed on solutions that address Vehicle to Infrastructure communication as well as Vehicle to Vehicle communication. The net sum of these efforts will be the “Connected Car” – a vehicle that utilizes pervasive and emerging technologies such as wireless infrastructre and communication protocols such as Bluetooth and NFC to deliver a consistent and seamless presence in a user’s already connected life. With the preponderance of mobile technology, manufacturers and OEMs are concerned with adoption of these devices in the car. Integration must be done safely and securely. The average ownership lifespan of a car ranges from 8-10 years – technology in the car when new, becomes obsolete rapidly. How can changes in technology be adopted to an existing car? The key question here is – Is the mobile device a companion device to the existing technology in the car or is it a replacement device for the existing car infrastructure.
Focus Area & Use Cases
An unfortunate by product of technological advancement is that the number of distractions for the driver while in transit, have increased greatly. Improving the safety of the driver has become the #1 focus area for manufacturers and OEMs. As in-car applications increase, there must be ways to limit the distraction, with the primary distraction being the mobile device in the car. One approach is to “voice-fy” in car applications i.e use a voice interface to applications such as SMS or mobile call control. This allows the user to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while ‘reading or writing’ a SMS or answering a call. OnStar* like technologies currently exist that help connect users to safety services. The usability of such services can be augmented or replaced by mobile devices/technologies. Other use cases in Safety include:
- Speed and Distance monitoring – replacing the Speedometer and tracking to posted speed and traffic warning based on presence of the car.
- Collision warning – V2V can help avert lateral collisions and provide merge assistance.
- Breakdown warning – Plugging into a car’s Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) port can help monitor car mechanics and proactively maintain the car before components breakdown while in transit.
- Emergency Services – The car as monitored by sensors can detect crashes and breakdowns and alert emergency services in addition to providing responders with data already present in the car.
- Driver Training – Utilizing technologies such as Augmented Reality to provide new users with a new training model as well as simulated experience of real world driving.
Another key focus area is the Connected Car space is Productivity. The average commute time for Metro Atlantans is 80 minutes. How can users utilize technology to be more productive while in transit? Can the headunit in the car be used to access email and enterprise content safely and securely? Can voiceification of the applications on the smartphone provide a safe methodology to do so? Can sensors and embedded devices in the car exchange information about the surroundings to deliver the latest relevant content such as traffic updates as well as parking guides/information? In addition to the above, productivity can also be effected by tracking the car. This is applicable especially in the area of Fleet Management for users such as Fedex, UPS or even limousine services. Fleet owners and managers can track vehicles that help update transit times and can track driver performance as well. They can also track the status of the car as stated previously to proactively maintain and manage the fleet.
The connected world at large has led to a largely consumptive world. Users want access to their applications and data on a persistent basis. Whether they are being entertained or accessing their personalized data, the usage must be persistent and consistent while in transit. The most accessed application in the car is Navigation. How can the mobile device augment or replace the incar navigation? Can the mobile device be utilized to provide more relevant information based on location such as points of interest based on personalization of the driver? Can the mobile device provide more consistent and updated information such as traffic closures, updated speed limits based on construction? Another application of interest to users is Weather. How can users get the latest and greatest weather news and forecasts? Is there a way to alert users in the car regarding weather emergencies such as tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes? Entertainment in the car is a major focus for manufacturers and vendors. Radio by itself has changed dramatically. Pandora and Spotify have increased their subscriber base greatly providing users with personalized channels catered to their music tastes. How can this functionality follow the user into the car? Rear entertainment units are of great significance to families and large groups that travel. The significant difference here is that the user being targeted is not the driver but the passengers in the car. How can content be shared across these units from a single control point? Can content be divided across multiple video units? Device management and policy control are areas worth exploring in managing the user experience in the car.