In-Car Technology and Consumer Expectations Today
After the mobile phone, the car will become the most connected device in the world so what can we expect in our cars of the future asks Geraldine Herbert
Many consumers today are willing to switch from one car brand to another simply on the basis of in-car technology. In fact, the average new car today has the computing power of 20 modern PCs and this power will continue to grow. It is expected that 75% of the projected 92 million cars to be produced globally in 2020 will be equipped with internet-connected hardware.
So what can we expect to see in the cars of the future, we look at 7 new technologies coming soon to a car near you.
1) Gesture Control
At the recent Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen unveiled the latest addition to its line-up in the form of the Arteon. This very sleek saloon features VW’s new Discover Pro infotainment system running through a 9.2-inch screen with gesture control. Gesture control allows the driver to control an action by the flick of a hand so it eliminates many of the buttons and controls on the dashboard. Currently, the BMW 7 series recognizes five specific hand gestures. The jury is still out however on its usefulness, are voice-activated interface systems not just easier in the long run?
2) Cars That Talk to One Another
Our smart cars of the future will not only talk to drivers, but also to other cars. Volvo has a cloud-based system on their new V90 Cross Country and all of the 90 series that enables cars for example to warn other cars behind to slow down on icy roads and other hazards that a car might encounter. This communication will be extended in the future and our cars could also receive data from traffic lights and information about congestion and weather. But the usefulness of this technology is dependent on the availability of reliable and secure mobile data networks.
3) Digital Dashboard
Digital dashboards are designed to meet growing consumer demand for in-car technology that is easy to use and access so it’s all about putting information that a driver needs in a location where the driver can see it, whether driving at speed or in traffic. But how much technology is too much? Car makers insist that going digital will make driving less dangerous but the increasingly elaborate screens have also raised questions about whether these systems are simply distracting drivers and forcing them to take their eyes away from the road. Regardless of safety concerns it seems for car makers and their customers digital dashboards are proving irresistible.
4) Remote Control
The stress of parking may finally be ending with the advent of remote control parking system. BMW were the first to offer this when they launched their new 7 series which you could park when outside the car by simply using the key fob. Remote control systems are not only confined to parking. Land Rover’s new Discovery features a new remote control system that allows owners to configure their vehicle’s seating from afar via an app on their smart-phone.
5) Health & Well being monitor
Over the next few years in-car monitoring apps will track your vital health statistics keeping an eye on things like blood sugar, local pollen counts and could even pull over and call an ambulance if you suffer a heart attack while driving. Car manufacturers, such as Hyundai, have already demonstrated a Healthcare Driving Cockpit that claims to have the capability to monitor, check, and manage the driver’s emotions.
6) Biometric Car Access
Soon unlocking your car door with any kind of a key will be a thing of the past instead by scanning your fingerprint your car will open and start automatically. A recent report predicts one in three cars will have biometric sensors by 2025. But Biometrics is not simply for protecting a driver’s car against theft the technology can also be used to automatically adjust car settings based on who is in the driver’s seat. Biometrics is not without a downside though and while these systems are more secure than others no security system is impervious to an attack.
7) Driver Override Systems
Driver override systems are the next stepping stone to self driving cars. Designed as active safety features they reduce the incidence of accidents on the roads by taking control away from drivers in emergency situations, overriding their demands if danger is imminent. They use radar, sonar and cameras to sense and interpret the environment. Nissan has been using brake override technology since 2002 and it’s currently working on enhanced versions of the technology. Other Car companies such as Volkswagen, Volvo and Toyota are also investing in these systems.
According to Volkmar Denner , the CEO of Bosch “The car as we know it will soon be history, today you use the internet to book a hotel room; in the future you’ll arrange your mobility online as well.”
Connectivity begins behind the wheel but in the future mobility will be seamlessly connected beyond the car culminating in a harmonious integration of mobility, smart homes, and smart cities. But before then the challenges surrounding infrastructure and the threat of data privacy and hacking will all have to be contended with.