With promises of fundamental changes in the wonderful world of mobility it’s perhaps little wonder that consumers are increasingly more attracted to interactive technology when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
What is already commonly referred to as the ‘connected car’ has certainly evolved in very distinct stages over the past few decades, which perhaps not only demonstrates the major advances already made but also provides an exciting insight of what’s yet to come.
A brief history
Going as far back as the mid-1960’s, the General Motors’ Driver Aid, Information and routing initiative (otherwise known as “DAIR”) sought to provide drivers with all types of useful driving information, from basic directions right through to current road conditions and ongoing accident reports. Sadly, a basic lack of technology stopped any further progress at the time, although only until 1995 when GM revealed its new OnStar technology in collaboration with EDS and Hughes Electronics. For some vehicles, this meant the exciting introduction of car phones; not to mention two new key players: the hardware providers and Tier 2 chip providers who supplied both the DCM devices and core services.
Almost a decade later, the near-ubiquity of mobile phones, coupled with the rapid rise of what are now known as ‘smartphones’, promoted the introduction of “info-tainment” applications, particularly the Ford SYNC, Kia UVO and GM MyLink. As opposed to utilising embedded hardware, these applications were developed via the driver’s own phone and streamed via Bluetooth; thus duplicating entertainment and features the driver could enjoy elsewhere and not purely in the car. On the back of this, Silicon Valley giants duly made their presence felt – particularly Blackberry, Google and Apple; all of whom released their own proprietary software platforms to establish themselves in an already booming market.
It comes as no great surprise that new technologies in the automotive industry have continued to advance over the years and this can only mean one thing – decisions, decisions, decisions! With so many gadgets and apps to choose from, today’s consumer has a plethora of important decisions to make when it comes to finding the right accessories for both the driver and their passengers, including mobile-apps. Here we take a look at just a few of the many options available on today’s market:
No longer reserved for the likes of Range Rovers and other 4 x 4 alternatives, adaptive suspension allows the vehicle to be put into different modes for added comfort, such as “sports” mode. Popular with landowners and farmers (or, at least, those with the budget to spare), this particular add-on is ideal for both on and off road adventures.
Advanced self-driving capabilities
As though forward-collision warnings and adaptive cruise controls weren’t enough, car manufacturers such as Mercedes and Volvo are already rolling out far more advanced packages which only stop a little short of autonomous vehicles themselves! Ideal for the regular commuter, technology such as Volvo’s Pilot Assist system are certainly making an impact on the market. Autonomous technology leaves the car users the time to enjoy the interactive technology.
Autonomous safety features
Whilst features such as lane-keep assist, automatic forward-collision braking and adaptive cruise control were initially restricted to the higher end luxury vehicles, these are now available on many more models, including the Nissan which even has the capability to perceive an incident two cars ahead! Now that’s what you’d call smart thinking, and it allows you to watch Netflix, get the answer to the question How old are you? Or even check your email while driving, and legally too!
Whilst only BMW currently offer gesture control on their 7 series, another great app well and truly in the making enables drivers to control various vehicle features quite literally, by using gestures as opposed to touch or voice control.
For drivers who prefer to keep their hands firmly on the wheel then the new larger screens being introduced by manufacturers such as Mercedes and Volvo not only offer great viewing ease but are also ultra-sensitive to touch, meaning they can be operated with ease, just like a smartphone.
Car care apps
Long gone are the days when you needed to record your service mileage on a scrap of paper; or try and remember when the next oil change falls due. Today’s car care apps like many other mobile apps for drivers, such as the Hyundai Assurance’s version, really do make life much easier when it comes to keeping track of that all important information meaning you’ll never miss an important milestone again.
Whilst vehicles with electric propulsion systems have been around since the late 1990’s, electric drivetrains are certainly driving performance forward – not only from a fuel economy point of view but also in terms of speed. What’s more, it’s already being offered on a long list of vehicles (including performance models such as the BMW, Porsche Spyder and Ferrari).
Suffice it to say, when it comes to interactive technology some incredible progress has already been made; and with yet more to come. Quite what the future holds in store, we’ll have to wait and see but it certainly seems true to suggest that technological advances hold no bounds when it comes to market competition.