A recent estimate made by Intel says a vehicle’s connectivity quotient would become a key buying parameter for customers by 2016, and by 2013, the car is likely to become the third most connected place in which people spend time. This surely doesn’t look like a tall ask, considering the manner in which manufacturers have taken to the task of making their vehicles stay connected!
Digital technology is changing how consumers use and interact with their cars. Car dashboards are increasingly becoming screen-based, making it easier for car users to access and relay information, and more importantly, communicate between two or more cars, as well as static infrastructure. Car-to-car (C2C) communication or car-to-transport infrastructure (C2X) communication is becoming a reality faster. The idea is to provide each other with information about traffic movements, safety warnings ahead on the road or even getting updates about the stock market.
Many high-end cars already come with radar, laser or video sensors to warn drivers of objects that are too close to the vehicle, or even when the vehicle drifts out of lane. Manufacturers and suppliers now realise the limitations of these technologies, or the potential of C2C or C2X communication. Various forums are now being formed to study this opportunity, and more and more OEMs are signing in.
The latest to join the bandwagon is Honda, who recently unveiled an in-car connected infotainment system, called Honda Link. Based on the Harman Aha technology platform,it connects to a wide variety of content sources, ranging from internet radio to Facebook news feeds and audiobook libraries, all of which can be activated through a touch of a button or voice command.
The Indian automotive industry realises the potential and need for vehicle communication systems, but it doesn’t seem ready yet. The challenge is in making this technology acceptable and affordable to the masses. Going by the increasing number of internet users in India, it is but natural to assume that a car with internet accessibility would be well-accepted. But India being an extremely cost-cautious market, manufacturers would need to find ways and means of making this acceptable to larger sections of the society.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, August 2012