Over the last few decades motor vehicles have gone through major changes, many of which have made them more reliable, increasingly usable and, in the last few years, progressively connected. But in this changing world, simply connecting our smartphones to our cars is now a little basic, and the future of connectivity appears to be much more exciting.
There are a range of new automotive technologies becoming available that promise to enhance our motoring experiences both in the car and in almost every area associated with them. The yearly Mobile World Congress considers mobile technology, and this year one of the most hotly anticipated areas of discussion was the award-winning feature on the Cisco Jasper connected car system, which is fast becoming the blueprint for future car-borne systems.
Jasper: the future of interactive control?
Jasper has been developed as a holistic solution to many automobile opportunities, including managing and monetizing connected services for any vehicle, worldwide. Currently, over fifty leading car brands globally including GM, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Tesla, Toyota to name a few rely on Control Center to introduce services, optimize reliability, reduce operational costs and increase profitability.
While systems such as Jasper are likely to become increasingly important for manufacturers and suppliers, there are an increasing number of apps that can be used to control, monitor, and keep up with busy social media lives from our cars. Ranging from simple remote connections to apps that allow the unlocking and even remote charging of your car, there is a growing list of connectivity for an increasing number of car models.
In-car apps: the best on the block
You would expect Nissan’s flagship electric car to have a level of connectivity, but this is an area that the Japanese company see as value-added when trying to entice customers. While there are huge steps towards fully autonomous driving, with little interaction from the those inside, Nissan believe that there will still be a huge market for those who want a smart car that allows them the freedom to drive too.
The Leaf allows remote interaction with the cars actual systems via the bespoke Nissan Leaf App. This technology allows the user to check their battery state and estimated driving range available, schedule charging times to take advantage of the best electrical rates or override a charging schedule for immediate charging.
The General Motors – Vauxhall in Europe - OnStar telematics service is a fairly advanced mobile technology and does much more than some Japanese manufacturers manage. Using the OnStar Remote Link App, you can remotely lock and unlock your car doors, start or stop your vehicle's engine, and sound the horn and flash the lights to help you locate your ride in a crowded parking lot. In addition, a vehicle finder shows you where your car is on a real-time map. You can also search for destinations and send them to the car's OnStar system for turn-by-turn navigation when you need it.
With the Bing search engine built-in, Toyota's Entune App lets search for and save destinations on your phone and access them upon returning to your car. Further in-dash integration with Bing allows integration with apps such as OpenTable App and MovieTickets.com to make reservations at local restaurants and order movie tickets, respectively, all from your car's dashboard.
Interacting with autonomous vehicles
Other vehicles such as BMW Mini and Hyundai are making increasing use of in-vehicle connectivity to not only take control of our social lives at all points, but also to take control of certain aspects of them too. Autonomous technology is becoming so increasingly relevant that we not only need to just call a driverless vehicle but also to plot the journey that we want to take, and perhaps check fundamentals such as battery life available in the vehicle when it arrives.
Connected technologies have changed the automotive industry already, but we are in the throes of a huge revolution that will see use those connections increasingly so, and in a range of different ways. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is only a good thing.
Connected cars: is the future rosy?
Connectivity brings a whole new set of issues, particularly when it comes to cyber security. We are deluged with stories of systems being hacked and the potential for a substitution of control to someone who may not have your best interests at heart. If that is happening to your in-car entertainment, it is one issue, but becomes quite another if you happen to be in a driverless car and lose all control over the vehicle. Having passwords on your phone is one thing but the handshake between phone and car then also becomes an issue; if they can hack your car systems, does this lead to a backdoor into your phone?
All of this is a very real threat and one that the car manufacturers – particularly those looking at developing autonomous vehicles – are taking seriously. Whether the next level of connected vehicle is shielded to prevent outside access, has a master kill button that stops everything in an emergency, or offers some other mode of protection remains to be seen, but connectivity is only in its infancy and we have a lot more to come yet.