You probably have the Internet at home, at work and wherever you travel with your smartphone. By 2014 you’ll also have Internet access in your car, pretty much regardless of what new model you drive, according to a senior analyst at global information company IHS.
Jack Bergquist implies car manufacturers are taking connected car technology more seriously than ever. “By the end of 2014, for some of the bigger brands, every vehicle they sell will offer some sort of connectivity,” he said. “If you look at a cost to design a completely new car model, some companies are spending around a third of the budget just on the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and the in-car technology around the system.”
Chip maker Intel seems to support his Bergquist’s claims. The company believes connected cars are already the third fastest growing technological device after phones and tablets, so it’s not surprising car makers are looking at ways of dragging in-car technology up to date. People want next-gen car tech and they’re buying it in droves.
“Ford has categorically stated that this is selling more cars for them,” Bergquist said. “Over 50% of consumers would be swayed by the presence of an internet-capable device.”
The full potential of next-generation in-car infotaiment systems has yet to be tapped, but many cars are already offering smartphone-style features behind the wheel. Some offer apps that tell you the location of the nearest, cheapest petrol station or the location of an empty parking space, while others integrate Google Earth, Maps and Street View functionality into their satellite navigation systems. Others, allow you to listen to Internet radio and even connect to social media platforms – the possibilities are endless.
Naturally, the connected car has plenty of critics, who cite the numerous potential dangers of having all that functionality and information available whilst on the move. As global technologist at Ford John Ellis outlined at CES 2013: “The danger is safety. You could get caught up in your experience and forget that you’re driving. Better, faster cheaper is what consumers want – but with safety.”
Security is also a huge concern. “People being able to hack into the car is a big issue,” Bergquist said. “If there’s a data system in a car, technically someone could hack into it.” That’s a terrifying thought given the rise in critical systems (handbrakes, steering, acceleration and braking) governed by electronics.
And then there are the inevitable privacy concerns that go with being constantly connected. Do we want our driving habits to be trackable by app developers and car manufacturers? Or is that a small price to pay for being able watch Top Gear crash helicopters on YouTube? Let us know in the comments below.