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Your Next Car Will Be All About Information, Entertainment

 

altBy Andy Marken

If you have a chance, catch CCE (Connected Car Expo) November 19, followed by the LA Auto Show (20/21) and cap it off with the January car show in Las Vegas.

You might call the January thing CES (Consumer Electronics Show) but forget the bangled wearables, the mobile devices of every shape/form/application, even content/data storage things.

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Car companies will be showing really sexy, sleek, jaw-dropping stuff.

Probably the only way I'll get out of the North Hall is if they move some of the cars into the Central/South Halls.

If you're a true go-anywhere gamer, what Nvidia is showing at these shows will get you outta your room and into a new car!

Sure, they'll show the concept driverless, hybrids and electric cars; but it will still be about style, the glare of the gadgets and the apps as you sit immersed in the fantastic new car smell.

They weren't the first but the Galvin brothers delivered one of the first commercially viable radios (bearing the Motorola name) when they installed the $130 crate in a $540 Model A Deluxe Coupe.

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Travel Companion – There's nothing worse than silence or talking to yourself when driving and you can thank the Galvin brothers for ensuring you have news, music, entertainment while you're on the road.

In addition to being a little pricey; the antenna covered the car's roof, the batteries were squeezed under the car seat and mammoth speakers were attached behind the seat.

Hey, that sounds like my kid's car!

Even then, laws were proposed to ban radios because they would:

- Distract the driver

- Cause accidents

- Take the driver's attention away from the road when tuning

- Lull the driver to sleep with music

Some things haven't changed much in 80 years

Well, a little ... cars got faster, more expensive and the distraction opportunities just keep getting better.

Michael Knight reassured us when he said, "Yeah, I can handle it."

Rolling Computer

The average car has about 70 computer chips and a big box full of sensors to keep track of just about everything. The car's 100 +/- ECUs (electronic control units) have up to 100 million lines of code.

It really is a mobile computer with a fantastic array of entertainment options, internet access and a growing list of apps that help you avoid traffic jams, find parking spots, locate coffee shops/restaurants and keep track of where you're going/where you've been.

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Troubleshooting – Auto technicians today wear gloves, not to keep their hands from getting greasy but to work with the growing number of chips and sensors that need to be checked and updated. Hundreds of devices and millions of line of code now monitor, keep your car moving.

It's no wonder you can't find a good mechanic anymore. They're now highly trained, highly paid computer technicians.

There's more to smart cars today than connecting a smartphone into the stereo.

Now, you have computers on the wheels and sensors tracking all sorts of data from engine temperature to speed and monitoring every conceivable aspect of your car's performance and the way you're treating it.

All of that data is available to your auto technician to diagnose the car's problems and issues.

That's the stuff you can't see; but your sales consultant (not salespeople anymore) will be happy to tell you about them.

Infotainment Options

What you will see is the elegant array of infotainment systems that consumer electronics firms are offering both to the auto designers/manufacturers as well aftermarket solutions to really trick our your ride.

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All-in-One - Major CE firms like Panasonic now have a complete organization that designs, develops and markets complete infotainment systems to auto makers and for the aftermarket enthusiast. Filled with chips, sensors, programs and apps; the newer centers provide complete information on the car and the world around you and keep everyone in the vehicle as safe as possible.

The leading names in consumer electronics have major design/development teams that work closely with auto design folks, software teams and wireless mobile service providers.

And yes, they'll be there with the car folks at CCE, the LA Auto Show and CES.

After all, it's a big market and getting bigger, better, more connectable/more connected.

As Devon Miles noted, "In Harvard they call it 'vertical Integrity'."

According to Gartner, global car sales will be in excess of 100 million units; and more than 35 million will ship with embedded mobile technology and someone's infotainment solutions.

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Beyond the Dock – First it was the mobile phone plugged into the electrical system, then the smartphone wirelessly connected to the audio system. Today, the phone and its apps are an integral part of the complete auto environment that monitors the car (and driver) as well as ensures safe/secure travel.

Embedded mobile technology will outstrip alternative connectivity.

Only 21 million cars will have smartphone integration and 10 million with tethered solutions.

In-car infotainment services such as news, weather, social networking and music streaming will be sold with about 32.1 million cars (up from 4.3 million last year) and navigation services will be in 28.5 million cars in 2018, compared with 5.12 million last year.

Vehicle management applications -- remote diagnostics and maintenance -- will be in 14.8 million cars, compared with 5.5 million last year.

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Assembly Line – The newest assembly lines in Detroit aren't found in cavernous factories but in coffee shops throughout the city, where programmers and designers dream up and develop chips, sensors, apps for the city's big iron.

Detroit Silicon

While the Motor City may be bankrupt, it's hard to tell there's a problem when you see all the brash new hardware/software/app organizations that are moving there to assist auto makers in delivering the mobile computing/travel experience you want.

Established CE firms, auto designers/engineers and the newcomers are busy working on:

- Infotainment and Media Computation solutions that go beyond your smartphone, tablet, laptop and other stuff to browse the web, stream audio/video entertainment and general communications.

- Telematics, Safety and Security that support the car's main function – transportation –as well as safety/security like auto emergency alerts, route planning, turn-by-turn navigation and car remote control.

- Vehicle-to-X Communications to reduce accidents, optimize traffic flow and other money making things they're working on.

Since folks spend an average of 15 hours a week in their car, one of the ideas your wireless carrier likes is streaming more stuff to you.

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Moving Hotspot – Globally, mobile service providers are rolling out 4G LTE service to provide faster downloads of email, music and video entertainment for your smartphone and the increasingly smart car. The robust service will also allow a number of users in the car to stay in touch with whatever they need to keep in touch with.

The GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association) and its wireless members are aggressively working to deploy 4G LTE high-speed service to meet the demands for in-car connectivity.

LTE Speed

They point out that LTE will improve in-car e-mail access, Internet connections, weather and traffic updates, video-conferencing and video streaming in addition to serving as a WiFi hotspot for everyone in the car.

That will enable you to make better use of Google Earth, Google Street View and online traffic information, as well as things like Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, all those computers, sensors, in-car networks and outside LTE capability aren't without their concerns.

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Thousand Points of Touch – With all of its computer chips and sensors, newer smartcars also have the potential to be hacked/whacked for fun and malicious activity. It is an area that auto makers and security firms are aggressively working on to keep the car and its passengers safe.

As Cisco's John Chambers pointed out, the connected car will also have the potential of thousands of points of entry for hackers, whackers and as Kaspersky recently dubbed them, cybermercenaries.

He said the high-speed, always-on wireless connectivity provides not only a new level of services but also a higher potential for distraction and malfeasance.

Or, as the narrator said, "Michael Knight, a lone crusader in a dangerous world."

Then there are the "little" issues:

- Do you buy your next car based on its OS?

- How do you pay for all those extra services and driver/rider benefits?

Don't worry, they'll work these issues out because according to Gartner's estimates, it can represent up to $20B in service revenues. That's not chicken feed! Gartner says what drivers really want is hands-free calling, navigation and automatic crash warning and maybe even car-to-car, car-to-infrastructure to manage traffic, prevent accidents.

Even as I drool at the car shows, I'm still going to need a lot of training to use it all especially since analysts are projecting in-car WiFi apps to grow eight-fold by 2019.

Or, I can be like Michael Knight and tell the car, "Keep your scanners peeled."

www.markencom.com

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