Re-birth of the Automobile

The past decade has seen the technology evolving at breakneck speed and this pace is about to increase in the coming few years with the focus now firmly on IoT and Connected technology. As a consumer, these are exciting times with world of possibilities at their disposal, however from an industry standpoint, there are equal number of challenges and opportunities that needs to be addressed.

The sole focus of having this technology developed is to foster human efficiency. One of the active leaders in this area is the automotive industry which has realised it needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the fast moving IoT dynamics. The Automotive industry has been in the innovation wilderness for the past couple of decades as compared to the crazy pace of innovation in the high tech world. Automotive technologies have been evolutionary instead of revolutionary during this time which has led to the realisation of the fact that no more is the automobile a must have tool for the masses. This has also got to do with various socio economic changes where most of the major cities are facing issues such as congestion, rising pollution levels, lack of open spaces etc. This has dramatically changed the sentiments of people towards automobiles and there will be a time not in the too distant future when automobiles will be considered as a burden or simply an undesired product altogether.

To escape this unfathomable scenario, automotive companies are actively trying to seek collaboration with different industries to ensure that their products don’t lose relevance in the coming decades. They will have to revisit their value proposition and business models to suit the fast changing market dynamics. For this, the best reference point is the high tech or consumer electronics industry which has been at the forefront of this massive technology shift in the past 10 years. These industries are now the go to partners for the automotive world in this time of crises. These industries are best connected with the consumers and have the latest knowledge of expectations from today’s markets around the world. For the automotive industry to come out of this phase unscathed, it is critical to master the consumer sentiments, future opportunities and required collaboration to ensure that the automobile can reach the status of a must have gadget. The basic concept of the automobile and what it can do needs to be redefined so that it will give a more immersive experience to the customers in this fast paced connected world.

The automobile has always been a symbol of freedom which allowed millions of people especially teenagers to express themselves as individuals. Different automobiles reflected different personalities which gave a unique identity to the bursting enthusiasm of young people. It was a dream of every young individual to own swanky four wheels which announced to the world that they had well and truly arrived on the big scene. Sadly, times have changed and the automobile needs to be reinvented so that they can retain the same feeling of exclusivity and unique identity which they once commanded. People today are looking at the automobile and expecting it to do things which it was not designed for over a century ago. The concept of automobile needs to be re-written this century. People want to be connected with the outside world like never before and this is true even when they are commuting from one place to another with automobiles. Moreover, they want their car to:

  • Interact seamlessly with personal devices.
  • Take control of home appliances in their homes.
  • Assist in finding best recipes to make that delicious dinner for their loved ones.
  • Communicate directly with the super markets to keep that wine bottle ready for a romantic date.
  • Book a ticket for their favourite movie.
  • Suggest the best offer on cheapest airlines.
  • Tell them when the weather will be best suited for that long awaited hiking trip.
  • Play the favourite list of songs on their music players.
  • Navigate around congested roads while they can attend meetings from the comfort of the backseat etc.

Re-birth-of-the-Automobile

To enable this complex relationship that needs to be forged between the automobile and personal devices, technology companies will play a major role in module integrations. This cutting edge technology will cover different user-vehicle interaction scenarios while maintaining ease of use. It will require sustained and sincere efforts from OEM’s and partners to ensure that this new technology will be available and managed without a big cost differential. Since software technology traditionally being one step ahead of hardware when it comes to market relevance, auto OEM’s have their task cut out to come up with innovative solutions of marrying the two vastly different technologies. Technology companies will need to create Open platforms/architecture and in-vehicle smartphone app integration as prerequisites for deploying cross-segment IoT applications in this ecosystem. This is to cater to the growing number of connected vehicles in the future. As per statistics from IHS Automotive: The number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow more than six fold to 152 million in 2020 from 23 million in 2013. Exciting…isn’t it?

But for software technology companies, this phase will be exciting wherein new business opportunities will be aplenty. Companies like Google or Samsung are aggressively after these business opportunities with self-driving cars and smart appliances. Whereas for an automotive OEM, from the architecture standpoint, there will be a paradigm shift from the traditional layouts to unique out of the box configurations that will need to suit the changing landscape of future cities (E.g. Tesla or BMW). Real time updates and collaboration between different devices will be a deal breaker to enable faultless consumer experience and this synergy will be as a result of traditionally separate industries coming together to create the automobile of tomorrow. Finally, the industry will have to educate the masses about IoT or Connected technology as more than 87% of the population hasn’t heard about the phrase IoT (Source: “17 ‘Internet of things’ facts everyone should read”)

This will ensure smooth adoption of this otherwise disruptive change that is going to redefine the automobile in the not so distant future. Albeit in a good way!!

Pranav Khurjekar

Senior Engineer, Presales and Technical Support,
Geometric Ltd.

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