How are today’s smartest connected cars using big data and connectivity to provide a truly tailored driving experience?
4 minute read
July 23, 2019
Last Updated: April 27, 2022
In 80s TV hit, Knight Rider, KITT was an artificially aware (AI) computer in the body of a robotic Pontiac Trans Am, it may have been pure sci-fi fantasy at the time, but some of today’s cars are more like KITT than, perhaps anyone, anticipated.
It might not be possible to have a full-blown conversation with a car (yet), but connected cars have data-powered capabilities designed to make driving safer, more intuitive and more enjoyable. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though; making cars internet-enabled opens up unimaginable possibilities for data-led development that goes far beyond just the driving experience.
What are connected cars?
Connected cars are those connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) – a collective term for the traditionally inert devices, such as fridges, washing machines or cars, fitted with internet connectivity. A connected car has internet access, and usually also a wireless local area network (LAN), which means it can share data with other enabled systems, both inside and outside the vehicle. Quite surprisingly, connected cars generate up to 25Gb of data every hour, that’s the equivalent of dozens of HD movies.
It’s difficult to talk about connected cars without also mentioning autonomous cars, which, while undeniably related, are two different things; connected cars may have access to the internet but autonomous cars (or ‘driverless’ cars), are designed to drive themselves without human intervention. You may be able to use elements of remote handling in a connected car (such as parking assistance), but ultimately, it’s the human driver in control.
A car can be connected but in no way autonomous, but all autonomous cars will likely be connected. Since vehicles will need to be internet-enabled in order to self-drive. As we mentioned in our previous blog about autonomous cars, this technology is still a way off, while connected cars are just about ready for market. Reports state that over 125 million passenger cars with embedded connectivity are expected to ship worldwide before 2022.
So, how do connected cars make use of internet connectivity and the flow of data it enables?
Personalising the driving experience
For many of us, our cars are almost an extension of ourselves, or at least somewhere we spend a considerable amount of time. With this in mind, vehicle app manufacturers are using IoT and internet connectivity to not only enrich the driving experience, but to tailor it to driver preferences. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung demonstrated its ‘Digital Cockpit’, which uses facial recognition to identify drivers and passengers and automatically adjust settings, such as seat height, music playlists and display preferences, to suit.
The system responds to voice commands, tracks the driver’s pupils and alerts to signs of drowsiness or careless driving and, when connected to Samsung’s Galaxy Home voice assistant, creates a link to other IoT-enabled devices at home. This link can be used for a range of things, like kickstarting the car’s heating system before you get in, for example, or checking the contents of your smart fridge on your drive home from work.
Then there’s in-car marketing. With individual, customisable screens for every passenger, connected cars offer enormous scope for marketers. They effectively become mobile media platforms, but car manufacturers like Bentley are taking it slow in terms of monetising the digital space in their connected cars, in order to ensure it delivers value for consumers and advertisers alike.
Using predictive analytics to boost road safety
Thanks to GPS, most of us already have access to digital map and journey planning systems while behind the wheel, and these generally use live traffic data to forewarn you of an obstruction in your path and reroute you if need be.
With access to the wider internet, connected cars can go further, pulling in data from a wide range of sources and analysing it more precisely to make smart route recommendations. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) and historical traffic accident data can be used to spot and flag road conditions that make an accident more likely, such as heavy congestion at certain junctions at certain times of the day. The driver can then decide whether or not to act on the information and take another route.
Planning more efficient traffic infrastructure
Traffic monitoring has always been carried out with static equipment, but connected cars allow for a new, mobile form of traffic supervision. In fact, as connected cars drive around an area constantly transmitting their locations, the traffic monitors itself.
With enough connected cars on the road, it’s possible to see where traffic problems build up and where road development, extra safety or traffic calming measures could be of help. Connected cars can serve as the eyes and the ears on the ground for city planners, giving a much more holistic view of an area’s traffic flow in action.
Put big data to work under the hood of your business
Connecting a traditionally reactive object, like a car, to the Internet of Things could be compared to infusing a business with big data insight. The addition of data enables new capabilities in both instances, in ways such as we’ve mentioned here for connected cars, and in ways such as Ikano Insight assists its clients for businesses.
For example, big data analysis allows us to understand consumers on a deeper level and design customer loyalty programmes and CRM strategies that tap into the heart of what they’re looking for or combine and visualise different consumer data sets in order to reveal hidden patterns.