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.

Today’s technology

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:

Adaptive suspension  

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! 

Electronic Logging Devices

Huge amounts of money are being saved each year on vehicle fleet owners and private car owners alike, using ELD devices to keep track of mileage. From a lower and better insurance rate, to finding the minimal mileage required, these devices are worth their weight in gold.

Gesture control  

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.

Larger screens  

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.

Electric drivetrain

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.

Over the past couple of years, the commercialisation of Virtual (VR) and Augmented reality has set the precedent for the future of technology. These devices and software have been heralded by the gaming and entertainment industries, with headsets such as the PlayStation headset and the Samsung Oculus taking the lead in popularity.

The commercial potential and accessibility of this technology has made the possibility for everyday life assimilation with this technology even more of a reality. Although there has been a strong push for these technologies over the past couple of years, they are still at the very early stages of their journey.

With AR and VR still at the beginning stages of their success, it’s interesting to gain an insight into how the technology is set to progress…

The new virtual computing platform:

As previously mentioned, there has been a heavy focus on the gaming and entertainment industries for VR, but in an interview, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, stated that VR could actually be the new platform for business and computing. In order to accept new strategies for interviews, training sessions and even business meetings, we need to break out of our convention and the parameters of the business world.

A product on the incline:

According to Zuckerberg, it will take up to 10 years for VR and AR to become fully assimilated into our everyday lives, at the moment the technology is in the very initial stages. In order to gain traction in the market, companies need to channel their app development to focus on finding useful and interesting ways to assimilate the technology into everyday life.

The company Apadmi has a specialist team of researchers, developers and technicians who assisted with the design and creation of the first smartphone, they are using this knowledge to find the break through programming that will gain momentum in the VR and AR world. This process is in the trial and error stages, and Facebook is currently shutting down up to 500 demo sites that haven’t peaked public interest. This could be a tiresome and meticulous process, but this will be worth the efforts.

Experience the world differently:

Virtual reality offers the user an opportunity to view the world differently. There are so many different programmes and applications that can take people off to far off destinations. People can immerse themselves in this virtual reality, exploring hostile and uninhabited destinations such as the Amazon Rainforest, or outer space. This can be used for a number of different purposes, either as a form of escapism, help with mental illness and for educational purposes.

VR and AR is currently limited to the visual and auditory senses, but as technology progresses, developers will seek to include other senses, reminiscent to the 4D cinematic experience, where touch and smell are incorporated.

Marketing potential:

It has been approximated that the VR market will reach a staggering $22 billion by 2020, determined by both hardware and software sales. Augmented reality is set to make the most headway in the technology, this combined with VR is set to be worth a staggering $121 billion, with the potential for even further future grown.

The slow burning success of this technology is perfect for investment, as it is an ongoing process that is undoubtedly going to increase throughout the years, and because of this particular nature, the opportunity to invest has not yet come to a close.

As shown through the failures of Facebook, there are still some uncertainties in the VR and AR market, and finding the peak of consumer interest and assimilation of the technologies into everyday life will certainly prove to be a struggle, but will also come out triumphant.

As the hardware and software for the technology advances, consumer interest will peak and there will be an influx in purchases, and VR and AR technology will gradually become more mainstream and used in everyday life.