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Car makers try to balance tech, safety

Car makers try to balance tech, safety

Telematics event highlights the direction, challenges of connected car market

  •  Car markers are adding touch screens and other connected technology to cars, including this display in the new Jaguar S model on display this week at the Telematics West Coast conference in San Diego. — Peggy Peattie

Twenty-five years ago, the car was the coolest machine most people owned. Today for the Millennial generation, the smartphone is probably the device they can’t do without.

Carmakers know this. They’re working with tech firms to bring smartphone-like connectivity, apps and services into autos in a way that doesn’t lead to distracted driving.

At the Telematics West Coast Conference last week in San Diego, representatives of Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Mercedes, Toyota, Jaguar/Land Rover and other carmakers discussed the challenges of delivering the next generation of smart content and services to vehicles.

It’s trickier than one might think. The fast-moving tech industry culture clashes with the deliberate style of the auto industry — as exemplified by GM Zone Manager Rikk Wilde describing the Chevrolet Colorado as having “technology and stuff” on national TV during the World Series MVP ceremony.

Even so, consumers are demanding this technology. Car connectivity — using apps, hands-free smartphone access, tapping into Internet content — has emerged as one of the top five reasons that consumers cite for buying a particular vehicle, say industry experts.

Automakers have responded by embedding wireless chips in cars to power such things as roadside assistance, in-vehicle Wi-Fi and rear-seat streaming video. Others carmakers rely on drivers to dock their smartphones for in-car connectivity, with certain apps allowed to sync with the dashboard for touch and hands-free voice control.

 Magnus Feuer, left, a systems architect with Jaguar/Land Rover, demonstrates the company's touch screen display inside the new Jaguar model at a Telematics Update conference Thursday in San Diego. Fraser Campbell, CEO of wcities of San Francisco, looks on. — Peggy Peattie

The way smartphone-like technology is presented to motorists, however, is not uniform across manufacturers and can sometimes feel slow and outdated to drivers. That’s partly because it takes five years or longer to design a car, while smartphone technology evolves every few months.

Meanwhile, both Google and Apple aim to make their technology — which consumers already know — front and center in the car.

Apple has CarPlay, a standard that allows devices running its iOS operating system to function with automobile dashboards. Google’s version is called Android Auto.

These tech giants aim to provide consumers with a familiar user experience across smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, cars and any other connected device.

But carmakers don’t want to cede the technology experience inside their vehicles to Google and Apple for reasons ranging from branding to legal liability.

“We are the ones who get sued if something doesn’t work,” said Scott Burnell, a global head of business development at Ford. “Making sure that interaction — getting the voice right, making sure that’s content that should be in the vehicle — ultimately that is always pointed right at the manufacturer.”

So getting the user interfaces and services right is critical for the auto industry.

“The consumer has a tremendous amount of power in dictating what happens and what doesn’t happen,” said Zach Brand, vice president of Digital Media for NPR. “Right now, the control rests with the carmakers — unless outside parties are able to mount such a force through consumer demand that the manufacturers must change their position.”

Connected car technology is potentially a big market. IHS Automotive, an industry research firm, forecasts the number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow to 152 million in 2020, up from 23 million in 2013.

Global , Others

Date: 11/9/2014 10:07:12 AM

By: YASA WEB , utsandiego.com
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