Every now and then the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear about a life-altering new technology on the horizon. Maybe I’m just a little too geeky, but connected-car technology has the potential to truly disrupt our standards for living.
I’m not talking about just having a radio and GPS on-board your ride. I’m talking about your car becoming a mobile computing platform that’s connected to everything around you via the Internet… with all the same great capabilities of a smartphone, computer, data center, and cellular transmissions tower all rolled into one platform on wheels!
Sure, your smartphone can hail you a ride, but it can’t give you a ride. It can’t even provide its own power generation to broadcast a signal and act like a mobile cellular network!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my smartphone. But seriously! How much more productivity can we squeeze out of them by adding new software applications, updating the processing power and screen sizes, or extending battery life?
The answer is not as much as updating your car!
The key is in the size and capabilities of the platform. All new vehicles today already come with computers that enhance their basic functions, such as engine performance and drivability.
These computers are more focused on enhancing the capability of the vehicle rather than the passenger riding inside.
But automakers hope to flip that over the next several years by enhancing passenger-centric computing capabilities that are more similar to smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers connected to the Internet.
Driverless cars are already hitting the road across the country, which is the first key step in helping passengers turn their attention off the road and back onto themselves. Of course, safety is a major concern, so it’s paramount that driverless car technology become as robust, if not better, than a live driver. And this will be the case sooner rather than later.
Then comes connectivity…
In 2016 we hit a new milestone in Internet-connected devices. For the first time in history, net adds of connected cars (32%) rose above the net adds of smartphones (31%) to mobile networks. In other words, more cars connected to mobile networks than smartphones. And AT&T (NYSE: T) leads the world, with about eight million connected cars on its network.
When we blend autonomous driving and a fully networked vehicle, we get what I like to call “Star Wars” capabilities.
Hate wasting time taking your car in for maintenance?
How about it take itself in between meetings you have scheduled on your online calendar!?
Tired of staring at that small smartphone or laptop screen to watch a video or get work done?
Since you’re no longer driving, images could be displayed on your windshield or passenger windows like a monitor.
Forget curved 70-inch TVs for football season, I’d rather be surrounded by six panes of glass with 4K resolution, a 3D TV feed, and surround sound stereo!
I think you get the point. Cars will be your new man cave.
All of this tech won’t come cheap, however, but thanks to the already well-established car-finance industry, the average consumer will be able to finance these capabilities. The irony is that this will probably occur over an automated online application on their smartphone!
Of course, with anything connected to the Internet, security also becomes a major concern.
Beyond basic security measures and infrastructure, tech companies are starting to offer bounty programs to white-glove hackers who find holes in software.
Expect to see the industry for hacking or, as insiders call it, “testing” vehicle software to grow. Especially since the safety implications of breaking into a device carrying passengers at high speeds is far worse than breaking into a device in your pocket.
Connected cars will make a massive disruption in the auto and tech industries in the coming years. Count on your Dent Research team to provide you with the latest insights into technology that you can profit from when the time is right.
Editor, BioTech Intel Trader
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