Every car online

Every car online by 2014

Almost everyone carries a small and very powerful computer in their pocket. The smart phone is now seen as a necessity for modern life. With an ever growing amount of gadgetry cars can also now be thought of as large computers we use as transport.

The BBC’s technology programme Click thinks it is a very real possibility that all new cars will be online by next year, using similar technology to that used in smart phones. Click is referring to it as the: “app-culture infiltrating the dashboard – from a parking space finder to a way to get coupons for local restaurants, or directions that can pop up on the windscreen.”

For such an app-culture to really be successful in a car the vehicle needs to be connected to the internet. It needs to be able to receive the required information without too much button pushing or searching from the driver. Therefore much as been invested in voice command technology for the connected car.

But this is not just so you can tweet on the move, or update your Spotify playlist as you zoom down the motorway. The connected car can use applications that allow it to show you where local petrol stations are and what their current prices are. City drivers might appreciate the app that can find them a parking space – it does this by analysing an aerial view of local street spaces. Currently being trialled is a system that can make a countdown pop up on the dashboard so the driver knows how long there is to wait at a traffic light before the lights change.

Within this decade Machina Research predicts that connectivity in vehicles will become ‘the norm’. [http://connectedlife.gsma.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/02/Global_Impact_2012.pdf]: “Today the automotive sector is dominated by after-market devices such as satellite navigation or stolen vehicle recovery devices. Between now and 2020, however, the focus will shift as the number of vehicles with built-in platforms grows…Between now and 2020 built-in connectivity will increasingly become a must-have in vehicles. It will become an integral part of the driving experience.”

However the idea of more technology in a car has raised concerns that this will provide more distractions for drivers. Hand held mobile phone use has been banned in cars since 2003 but a high proportion of driving incidents are caused by drivers being distracted by their phone.

John Ellis, global technologist for connected services and solutions at Ford commented: “You could get caught up in your experience and forget that you’re driving. Better, faster cheaper is what consumers want – but with safety.” Which is why there are plans in EU law to make it mandatory by 2015 for cars to be fitted with e-call, a device which automatically calls the emergency services in the event of an accident.

There is also the worry that a connected car is an hackable car and easy to unlock. But MotoringResearch.com reports that experts have been quick to reassure that: “there will be no safety concerns from the new technology – certainly, hackers won’t be able to ‘break into’ moving cars and risk accidents. Infotainment technology is installed on a completely separate system to cars’ safety systems, meaning there should be no risk to how a car drives.”

Do you think a car with apps just like your smart phone will be an improvement or a distraction from driving?

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