Unlocking the Potential of the Future Connected Car
TEAMS Design Trend Story Automotive II
By Sean Loomis
The Automobile has already been a powerful example of driving the need for connectivity, as in-car radios were introduced, opening a whole new world to drivers (from receiving daily news-reports, traffic warnings to a host of hot stations playing the latest and greatest music).
Ever since the advent of the Internet of Things, more and more devices have been transitioning to a more powerful state of connectivity. It was only a matter of time before vehicles began connecting to a host of new frequencies and signals. From the inception of “ On-Star” offering the first connected services (remote commands and in-vehicle support), to installing and running software to manage vehicle functions today, Cars become more powerful and more connected every year. By 2020, it is estimated that over 45% of all cars being driven will be connected in a variety of ways to new services and signals (Business Insider).
New services and organizations, and tech manufacturers are popping up constantly to provide new ways of connecting vehicles to the world around us. What new possibilities does connectivity inside the car open up to us?
V2X (Vehicle to Everything)
Semiconductor companies are racing to connect vehicles to everything around them, from communication between vehicle groups, to communication with infrastructural devices, to entire networks:
- V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) technologies, including advanced sensors, transmitters and predictive processing units are allowing Vehicles to communication with one another. The potential is quite astounding, as drivers become more informed about what the next actions are of other vehicles in the vicinity. This could help with advanced collision warnings, blind spot detection, and platooning purposes (where groups of vehicles connect together to act and move as a unit).
- These V2V technologies, including advanced processors, are also paving the way for autonomous driving vehicles to make wiser and more informed decisions. As cars begin to communicate with one another, the risk of driver errors and accidents begin to reduce drastically.
- V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) is also an exciting development allowing vehicles to communicate with devices and elements in the environments around them. Whether receiving warnings about upcoming road works, emergency vehicles, or upcoming accidents, cars are driving forward the connectivity of transportation frameworks around the world.
5G / Cellular
- Over-the-Air Updates — Currently, with most cars that we buy, they come as-is. Further updates to the software running the vehicle require individuals to find a mechanic or automotive dealership in order to respond to software related problems. Yet, with the rapid evolution in software systems and connected networks offering 4G and soon to be 5G data transmission services, Cars could update themselves as easily as a smartphone software update.
- Upgrades & Performance Enhancements — Not only do new cellular networks allow for cars to improve their own software and security systems, advancing 5G networks will allow drivers to enhance and maximize existing systems inside their vehicle with specialized algorithm / enhanced upgrades. Imagine being able to unlock more horsepower, better fuel efficiency, or battery performance for your vehicle with specially tailored digital add-ons & plugins.
- Processing & Analytics — One of the most exciting advances of having vehicles connected to cellular networks are massive data-collection & processing services. Cars will in the future be used as data analytics engines, capturing information about road conditions, weather hazards, and traffic issues, all while sending their data packages to a collective cloud. Automotive cloud services will enable rapid or live transmission of current & relevant driving information to all vehicles connected to their services.
UWB (Ultra Wide Band)
- Passive Keyless Entry — Cars empowered with Ultra-Wide-Band transmitters are enabling new ways to access one’s own automobile. Instead of searching through backpack or purse for those pesky keys, UWB devices allow for passive keyless entry to a vehicle, without ever needing to even press a button.
- Internal Data Collection — UWB Sensors can also be installed in various places within the interior of a car to collect data about what’s happening inside the vehicle (such as if, and how many, passengers are seated inside the vehicle in order to deploy necessary collision-safety procedures in case of an accident).
- Extended, Hands-Free, Connected Devices — Bluetooth inside the car is enabling drivers to connect any of their bluetooth enabled devices to sync directly with their vehicle. In itself, this is not entirely impressive. Yet, combined with applications on smart-devices such as Voice Assistants, hands-free voice commands, and direct interaction with other digital services, BT is enabling vehicles to become an extension / powerhouse for their connected devices.
- Personal Hotspot — Imagine having a mobile hotspot wherever you go, for everyone in the car. Vehicles are being equipped with powerful wireless transmitting technologies to enable shared connectivity for all passengers inside the car.
This is in no way a comprehensive list of all of the latest innovations being developed in terms of connecting cars to the world around us (rather just the tip of the iceberg in terms of possibilities). Truly though, it is exciting to see and imagine the next evolutions of the automobile as it becomes the next advanced smart and connected object in our daily lives.
If you’d like to read more about the concept of the Connected Car, here are a few more articles with some good thoughts on the topic:
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This is part of an ongoing series we at TEAMS Design are producing to discuss future trends we are researching in the automotive industry.