DR S DEVARAJAN is Senior Vice President – Production Engineering at TVS Motor Company
The Bluetooth technology was developed in 1989 by Nils Rydbeck, CTO, Ericsson Mobile in Lund, Sweden for the purpose of designing wireless headsets. The possibilities were endless and within a decade, the first consumer Bluetooth device was launched in the form of a hands-free mobile headset, followed by the first Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, which hit the market in 2001.
With the advent of consumer durable technologies, the implementation of the Bluetooth technology soared to the point of it becoming synonymous with lifestyle. Today, multiple homes are Bluetooth-enabled, in the form of artificial assistants playing an active role in day-to-day activities. The Internet of Things (IoT) – the culmination of connected technology – is persistently bridging boundaries between the physical and the digital, thereby bringing about a positive difference to the quality of consumer lives. IoT is also one of the most impactful trends, which is assisting companies across different business segments towards digital transformation.
The connected technology was adopted in cars as early as 1996, with remote diagnostics being incorporated in 2001, followed by data-only telematics in 2007. Today, connected technologies within cars are broken down into eight categories ranging from basics like ‘mobility management’ encompassing current traffic information, fuel optimisation, to complex ‘commerce’ programmes enabling drivers to purchase goods and services on the go. Some connected cars also offer ‘well-being’, i.e. detecting driver fatigue and facilitating environment adjustment to keep them alert.
TWO-WHEELER MARKET SCOPE
Since India is one of the biggest two-wheeler markets around the world, it becomes the best prospective market for global as well as domestic automotive players. The size of the market guarantees that every innovation can reach a larger audience in the country. This can be validated by the extensive choice of two-wheelers available for all segments and is visible in the range of features offered across segments.
Today, there is an increasing trend among riders, especially Gen Z, to opt for smart features and solutions that keep their vehicle safe while ensuring their journey is enjoyable. This disruption in connected two-wheelers has opened up opportunities to explore collaborations among automotive manufacturers, tech companies, suppliers and other firms. There have been instances of partnerships with telecom companies to enable mobile connectivity in new two-wheelers. These associations have a common goal – to attain a better riding experience with enhanced safety through technological advancements.
At TVS Motor Company, we understand the changing dynamics in the connected two-wheeler space. We have been catering to this dynamic segment for a long time. Our strong in-house technology expertise has helped develop advanced connected systems that ensure rider safety and comfortable riding experience. These advanced solutions for the Indian market are in confluence with global standards.
In line with the thought, the company had introduced TVS SmartXonnect – a state-of-the- art technology, which communicates with the rider via Bluetooth, thus making two-wheelers a connected reality. TVS NTORQ 125 became the first connected scooter in India. The connectivity has three parts, first connecting customer to the vehicle, then connecting the customer with people and finally, connecting the customer with the place – all this when the customer is riding the vehicle.
The innovation here is delivering all these facets in a way that enhances the user experience of the product, without compromising on safety and making the technology affordable at the same time. The core to this is the indigenously developed app and associated hardware technology that connects the customer, the vehicle and the service provider. The SmartXonnect app enables the customer to ride through unknown terrains with turn-by-turn navigation read out on the cluster from the online map of the service provider connected through the customer’s smartphone. It offers incoming call alerts, sends automatic SMS, and provides park assist, among other features. The technology is now also applied to TVS Jupiter, our flagship scooter brand, in its variant TVS Jupiter Grande.
Over the course of our work on the connected technology, we have realised how the application can be tweaked to suit the intended rider. The TVS Apache series is born on the race track and built with 37 years of racing heritage. When we applied the technology to TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, we customised towards creating a one-of-a-kind racing experience for our racing enthusiast customers. The new display paired to the TVS Connect application has multiple features, including navigation, race telemetry, tour mode, lean angle mode, crash alert, & call & SMS notifications.
The lean angle mode uses the mobile phone’s gyroscope sensor to record the rider’s lean angle through the corners and displays it on the cluster. Race telemetry, meanwhile, records and summarises essential data at the end of every race or ride. Crash alert, as the name suggests, is triggered when the application senses a fall; it is programmed to send the rider’s emergency contacts the location of the fall within 180 s.
At TVS Motor Company, innovation lies in anticipating future challenges and developing innovative technology at great value. We implemented this in our concept scooter that was displayed at Auto Expo 2018 – TVS CREON, a performance-oriented, electric scooter concept, designed keeping in mind the global dream for a green future and uncompromised performance. The vehicle is app-enabled and offers a host of features including cloud connectivity, three custom riding modes, regenerative braking, park assist, safety, anti-theft, GPS & navigation, and geofencing.
MAINSTREAMING DIGITAL APPS
It has been an interesting journey and connected devices are no longer the bastion of personal devices like the phone and are making their presence felt in unexpected but pleasantly surprising places, including the area of personal mobility. The possibility of innovation in this space is an excellent example of creating more convenient, intelligent and personalised riding experiences. With manufacturers introducing next generation intelligent products with integrated smart-assistance capabilities, expect digital applications and features to become mainstream in the future.