DAMANDEEP KOCHHAR is Vice President, Global Content Operations at HERE Technologies
More than a century ago, Alexander Graham Bell decided to bring the world together through a telephone and in the years to follow, the first telephone line was constructed, followed by the creation of the first switchboard and eventually the first telephones were set up in our homes via this switchboard network. In the 1960s, personal communications changed forever, with the introduction of consumer modems that connected one computer to the another, across the globe, at a blistering speed of 300 bit/s. In the following decade then, early GPS systems connected us to satellites in the sky!
So, what do these things share? They were all connected platforms that enabled the exchange of diverse ideas and information, from one part of the world to another, with multiple brands of devices. As the globalised world continues to shrink, changing the way we talk, interact and live, technological advancements will continue to create new paradigms and business opportunities across various sectors and industries. The most exciting possibilities and the next wave of connected systems are expected to come through the automobile industry.
The automobile industry in India is on the cusp of disruption with a high level of sophisticated technology and innovations. Many big automobile companies have already started embracing smart mobility technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other automotive IoT solutions, such as HD navigation maps, over-the-air technology solutions, traffic products, etc.
FROM CONNECTED PHONES TO CONNECTED CARS
For decades now, the classic American Sci-Fi adventure comedy, ‘Back to the Future’ has been responsible for driving conversations around some of our futuristic mobility fantasies, whether it is Marty McFly’s colourful hoverboard or self-driving cars cutting through overcrowded streets, traveling through time. While the prospects of time travel remain a fantasy, congested streets are becoming a reality, as are autonomous and connected vehicles as they are gradually introduced on the streets.
As per a Research & Markets report, the Indian connected car market reached $ 9.8 bn in 2019 and is projected to reach $ 32.5 bn by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 22.2 % during the forecast period. A few key factors fuelling growth in the market are enhanced internet connectivity, increase in number of connected features in economy vehicles by OEMs, along with new safety norms, that are encouraging automakers to equip the vehicles with safety & security features such as navigation, remote diagnostics, auto-pilot mode and multimedia streaming through various internet and smartphone operating systems.
CONNECTING VEHICLE TO VEHICLE THROUGH LOCATION
Imagine a car connecting with other cars in the same vicinity so that they could collectively provide a picture of where, when and why traffic congestion occurs, resulting in a high-quality flow of content of conditions and incidents in near real-time. Leveraging localised data and intelligence could help further the vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication, allowing two vehicles to communicate with each other on the road seamlessly and share information on road safety, speed, traffic congestion and driving conditions. This combination of rich information from alerts on upcoming risks that could affect their journey, to the location of the nearest parking spot, to their destination or stalled vehicles, could deliver deep valuable insights to other on-road drivers, helping them make better routing decisions and travel confidently.
KNOW THY LOCATION
We now understand that the recurring theme across all these advancements is the huge amounts of data that will be generated. Since much of this big data would be collected across vast demographics, automakers will have to filter the information through the lens of ‘location’ to drive innovative, easy and intelligent mobility solutions – one of the foundations on which the connected vehicle ecosystem rests. Therefore, as connected vehicles begin to dominate the roads, ‘location data’ and technologies will become critical.
By leveraging location-driven technologies and mobility solutions such as cameras, sensors, in-car voice controls, etc., connected vehicles can use real-time analytics to help bring a geographic context to enable better road transportation, connectivity, safety and convenience. In other words, data-driven decision making can be used to create smart vehicles and smarter roadways. This can be seen happening already. For example, in Vietnam, smart cameras and sensors have been deployed to monitor traffic, manage road safety and inform future city planning.
Pune is an example of how mobile network data can be used to gather information on public habits and infrastructure usage. Actionable insights could be derived through sensor data at places such as traffic signals, which can then be used alongside location analytics to determine population density or feasibility of putting the car on an auto-pilot mode in that area. Drivers can also use geolocation APIs to locate places of interest such as open parks, restaurants or a public hospital and first aid clinics in emergency situations.
Connected technologies will help auto manufacturers to deep-dive into consumer driving habits and build a newer generation of vehicles that could produce terabytes of information daily, offering drivers with details of the car’s environment, such as speed, objects in proximity, weather conditions, and images of the roadway. Other benefits can include providing an overview of the functions contained within the car, such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, windshield wipers, fuel efficiency and quite a few more. This information can be delivered into any vehicle’s infotainment systems, or smartphone/ tablet apps, making it a platform-agnostic information distribution network.
All in all, the automotive space will get more competitive, opening up new avenues and business opportunities for players across technology and automotive industries. A revolution of connected technologies, smart highways and storm of data is coming fast. Only companies that can successfully integrate and leverage these new technologies every day in a quick and effective manner will stand the test of the time. Success will find its way to companies and players that are focussing on right strategy, inventive platforms and applying contextualised intelligence and analytics to connect the dots and roads, one location at a time!