When cars talk, businesses listen!
The promise of smartphone integration is that the modern day driver need not worry about handling data or configuring the user experience in multiple devices but can access the data as well as the experience stored in his smartphone or tablet from the car dashboard as well.
Harsha Bagur, Group Head, IVI Systems | Robert Bosch GmbH
Cars of today are increasingly being connected and the connectivity feature itself is becoming ubiquitous. Internet of things (IoT) being the buzzword of today, there is an increasing focus to connect all things and objects and extract data to derive actionable intelligence out of it. Cars are also not being left behind and today’s cars do come with a lot of in-built connectivity features.
Connectivity of yesteryears, inside the car, was limited to Bluetooth providing Hands-free calling (HFP, HSP) and audio streaming (A2DP, AVRCP) in infotainment devices. These features continue to enjoy patronage among users, but however, Wi-Fi is also slowly making an entry. 3G and 4G SIMs are also making an entry in the dashboard. Wi-Fi and 3G/4G open up a new paradigm shift and introduce a scenario wherein the car is connected to the internet. The car of today, with these new connectivity technologies can talk to the external world. This opens up the possibilities of a whole new set of business use cases that were not previously thought of or were not possible.
A 4G connection will afford a very high-speed internet connectivity to the drivers. Wi-Fi combined with 4G allows the possibility of having a wireless hotspot inside the vehicle for consumption of internet by multiple static devices like infotainment systems and user handheld devices like tablets and smartphones. There is always an on-the-go, real-time updates available for everything from latest maps for the navigation system to making an online booking for the latest movie.
The introduction of the SIM and the GPS chips in the car have opened up a whole new set of possibilities. The GPS tracks the location of the vehicle and the SIM sends all the relevant information to a central database. A motion sensor, which in most cases is an accelerometer that detects events like sudden braking or sudden acceleration or an impact, is also accompanied with the above set up to complete the telematics system. The telematics system have been long used in commercial vehicles for fleet management and have started to now make an entry to passenger cars. The data from the telematics box provides valuable information such as – the speed at which the vehicle is driven, sharp braking or acceleration, time of day the vehicle is driven, lengths of the journeys taken, mileage, etc. The driver can easily access these data in a mobile app and analyze the key areas of his driving profile and also make the necessary changes if needed. The telematics setup is offered as a box, that can be retrofitted, by many companies nowadays and also these features are also being introduced as standard feature by the some of the OEMs.
The data thus extracted through a telematics setup, as described above, holds great value to the driver. The vehicle insurance industry has started understanding the potential of this data and is now using this for its own advantage. Traditionally insurance agencies used to look at the driver’s age, vehicle type and the location to derive the insurance premium. The agency would have no means to access & quantify the risk involved and derive the right premium amount that would be justified for the quantum of risk. But with the telematics data, the insurance agency gets a direct insight into the driver’s driving patterns and driving behavior and with this information, the agency would derive a driving score. The agency can then derive the insurance premiums based on these driving scores. The drivers may also adopt safer driving options to obtain a better score and thereby reduce their premiums.
This type of insurance is popularly known as Telematics Insurance or Usage based insurance (UBI). Some insurance providers may also specify that one do not drive between certain hours and at certain stretches when serious accidents are most likely to happen – usually late night or early morning. Also in case of accidents, the telematics data can provide an objective analysis of the fault of the involved parties. Liability allocation can then become easier and more efficient. Telematics data, thus, provides a new power to the drivers as well as the insurance agency, to gain more insights that can be translated to competitive advantage and operational efficiency.
Telematics also does open up other avenues that benefits the vehicle owners like the roadside assistance, remote unlocking of the vehicle, etc. Lets say that a driver forgot his car keys inside the car and a mere phone call could get the car unlocked. GM’s Onstar is a very good example which provides these features. Telematics also does help in case of a theft. The exact location, speed and the direction of travel of the vehicle can be tracked online and can be used by the police for vehicle retrieval. There can also be an option to monitor remotely and trigger a speed control that makes sure that the car cannot travel beyond a certain speed.
Smartphone integration into the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems is the new buzzword and is intended to attract a new generation of younger and tech-savvy buyers. Many of the OEMs were already allowing the drivers to connect their smartphones through USB ports and get limited access to utilities like iTunes, streaming music service like Pandora. Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), a group of automobile and mobile phones makers developed Mirrorlink, a standard for integration of Smartphones into the IVI systems. This allows the duplication of quite a few of the Smartphone features onto the car dashboard. Apple also unveiled the Carplay interface for iPhone which was first seen in some of the latest models of Mercedes Benz. The promise of Smartphone integration is that the modern day driver need not worry about handling data or configuring the user experience in multiple devices but can access the data as well as the experience stored in his smartphone or tablet from the car dashboard as well.
The V2V connectivity is about the technology which allows cars to talk to each other. This is a new dimension of the M2M communication which has the potential to avoid crashes and save lives. A radio signal would be continuously transmitted providing the vehicle’s speed and position and thus the vehicles in the front, behind and over a couple of hundred meters radius would use this information to take intelligent decisions. Going ahead, the traffic lights, toll booths, the cameras and stretches of road themselves can be part of the network and start talking to the cars and to each other. The future highways can be envisioned as a mesh of connected devices which are continuously talking to each other and taking autonomous decisions.