Published 02. Nov. 2016
How Car Connectivity Opens Doors to New Players and Enhances Driver Experience
by Kari Kauppi, Chief Innovation Executive, Symbio
Apple and Google were the first companies outside the automotive industry to take their services into vehicles and seize the opportunity to innovate around new services and business models. Joining them in this direction are giant companies Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.
According to a Gartner report, a quarter of a billion vehicles will be connected by 2020, and connectivity will enable a multitude of different opportunities. Customer experience in car ownership will improve, as well as service experience from vehicle manufacturers and other service providers.
There are two general ways of connecting vehicles. First is by tethering, which involves using an external device to provide connectivity to the vehicle and the Internet. This device is usually the driver’s smartphone, but it could also be a device dedicated for vehicle use only, like ODB-II dongle with an embedded SIM-card and Bluetooth or WiFi. The latest innovation in this field enables a third party device access to sandboxed environments, in car processing, like Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto services. The second method is embedding connectivity functionality into the car, usually by implementing a vehicle Telematics Module. This usually gives better access and control for vehicle functions, but places a lot of new requirements for data security and privacy, on the other hand.
OEMs commonly implement both mechanisms and utilize each method to fit into the specific use case in hand. For example, to enable OTA software updates for the vehicle ECUs, it makes more sense to utilize the embedded connectivity features to reach maximum security. Instead of accessing the driver’s podcast library, tether from a mobile device (for example with Apple CarPlay). Providing sandboxed environments for different processing environments like third party applications inside infotainment module (IVI) is not a new idea, but advancements in technologies like Docker have made implementing those sandboxed environments much simpler.
- From an engineering perspective, container technologies work to enable better architecture (with microservices) and better development cycles (with managed development environments), as well as create more freedom within development teams to use the tools they know best.
- From a customer perspective, solutions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make accessing services while driving safer. But most importantly, they have made services and user experience upgradeable without the need to fiddle with USB-sticks or take the vehicle back to the dealer. Enabling third party application ecosystems from giants outside the automotive industry is opening platforms that were previously closed. This makes it possible for even for smaller companies to offer their dedicated applications and services to automotive industry. This will foster innovation and at the same time brings new players into automotive industry. From OEM perspective, among new service experience opportunities, gathering live information how vehicles are being used is now possible. Collected data could be utilized to improve navigation maps, or to optimize energy harvesting algorithm in electrical vehicles.
The latest discussions have been circling around self-driving vehicles. It’s a given that self-driving vehicles need to have some sort of connectivity, which should at least cover vehicle to self-driving cloud, vehicle to road infrastructure, as well as vehicle to vehicle. On the other hand, self-driving cars also need to have recovery mechanisms to handle cases in which there is no connectivity or when connectivity is unreliable. Having a unified HMI strategy that communicate to self-driving models and to the car’s current and future activities is important in order to gain the driver’s trust.
In summary, it could be said that getting vehicles connected enables new service experiences, offerings, and new business models for OEMs as well as for other companies willing to tap into this huge growth opportunity.
Kari Kauppi has more than 10 years of experience working with connected car solutions, both with automotive OEMs and consumer electronics companies, with a deep understanding of their ecosystems. He was part of the development of the current best optimized connected car solution for Symbio Connected Car.