Are Connected Cars Driving IoT Innovation?

All these vehicles use transmitted information and wireless capabilities to help guide car functions and even autonomous driving. (Image: Yahoo! Auto via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)
All these vehicles use transmitted information and wireless capabilities to help guide car functions and even autonomous driving. (Image: Yahoo! Auto via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Connected cars are playing a large role in driving IoT innovation, an influential position that has been recently filled by the proliferation of smartwatches and fitness trackers, which connect wirelessly to the Internet to submit data pivotal to the user experience — a trademark of IoT innovation. As connected cars continue to become the norm, their role in driving IoT innovation will only increase.

This innovation is even more apparent than ever, especially after the unveiling of autonomous vehicles by big players like Tesla, Mercedes, and BMW, with Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature, Mercedes’ F 015 Luxury in Motion, and BMW’s upcoming iNext. All these vehicles use transmitted information and wireless capabilities to help guide car functions and even autonomous driving.

As these impressive autonomous vehicles become widely available over the next decade or so, the public interest in IoT innovation is bound to increase, as it already has with the market prominence of fitness trackers and smartwatches, in addition to IoT breakthroughs in medical care involving infant monitors, insulin trackers, prescription pill tracking, and more.

With IoT anticipated to generate $8.9 trillion by 2020, according to International Data Corporation, it’s certainly worthwhile to explore how exactly connected cars and IoT will align in the coming years.

Autonomous is the future

(Image: mariordo59 via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Autonomous cars are the cars of the future. (Image: mariordo59 via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

As Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, and others have already made clear their intentions to go full-in on the autonomous car market, there’s no doubt that these cars’ features will work with powerful cloud technology in a way that can potentially alleviate traffic and improve public safety.

In addition to advancements in cameras, on-board computers, and sensors, the capacity of artificial intelligence is evolving, allowing autonomous cars to adapt and learn over time, resulting in constantly improving autonomous systems. The more autonomous technology becomes the norm, the quicker this technology can improve itself.

Carmakers moving into tech

(Image: ishikawa_ via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tesla is one of the leaders in the autonomous car market. (Image: ishikawa_ via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Apart from the very ambitious Tesla, most car companies aren’t exactly considered in the technology sphere, like how Silicon Valley businesses are. Expect this to change in the coming years as IoT and cars converge, with car companies entering the tech field and tech companies — such as Apple, rumored to be working on their own vehicle, codenamed Project Titan — entering the car industry.

This convergence will eventually make the car industry indistinguishable from the tech industry, with cars representing an excellent platform for operating systems to flourish and become the norm.

The car industry expanding its base into the tech-savvy is certainly a good thing for them, but it opens up a can of worms that wasn’t a major issue before now: technological security. When prompted with a question regarding future self-driving cars, many understandably express concern that their cars could be hacked into, resulting in fatal consequences.

As a result, car and tech companies both will have to be very prudent to ensure security, which became a public concern especially after Fiat Chrysler issued a recall last year to address a security exploit that could allow hackers to take over Jeep Cherokees. News stories like this prompt understandable public concern, and could pose an issue in the present and future that delays autonomous vehicle and IoT innovation.

The prospect of driving 70 mph on a highway and then having hackers take over your vehicle is not a desirable one, obviously.

Additional revenue streams

(Image: Graham Smith via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tech companies like Google Play will become big players in the autonomous car market. (Image: Graham Smith via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Assuming security concerns are publicly eased and autonomous driving becomes a norm in society, several lucrative revenue streams will open up for car and tech companies, particularly via proprietary placement in vehicles. It’s likely that car companies will negotiate with certain tech providers, like Google Play or Apple Music, to associate a platform with a specific car manufacturer.

Car companies could host a bidding war in this scenario — for instance, to see if Google Play, Apple Music, or Spotify would become a vehicle’s go-to audio player platform.

Alternatively, tech companies with pre-existing platforms like Google and Apple could decide to enter the car market themselves, seeing themselves as having a head start in terms of certain accompanying technology, like Google does with their navigation/direction technology and Google Play platform. It will be interesting to see what type of competition this will inspire, as well as the innovation in regard to IoT that comes from it.

Things will happen with autonomous cars and IoT that are impossible to predict at the moment, but what seems imminent is that they will certainly play a collaborative role in inspiring competition and technological innovation that results in IoT being incorporated into every vehicle on the road.

Car and tech companies will compete in the form of technological innovation to become the go-to provider of vehicles and/or vehicle technology, while the drivers of these vehicles will benefit from the competitive scene in a way that provides some of the most immersive forms of technological guidance in their lifetimes.

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