Brands, Get On Top Of In-Car Technology

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In-car apps, driver-less cars and high-tech dashboards are facing the automotive industry and brands need to get on board, argues The White Agency’s Chrissie Malloch.

The future of in-car technology is racing ahead (literally) and the prospect of driverless cars no longer seems so futuristic. Technology is one of the greatest forces that brands need to contend with, and this was never more evident than in the car industry right now where automotive apps and enhanced dashboards are set to become common features.

So which will it be moving forward – more apps or more dashboard features? The short answer is both. The future of creating smarter cars is developing both technologies because if mobile apps and internet-based services can further penetrate their way into the in-car environment there is an even greater opportunity to expand the ability to engage consumers, absorb their attention, and gather the all-important data that we marketing folk crave.

To access all this information and gather available data, the next step is for cars to talk directly to the internet by providing a connection through the vehicle itself. So what’s the best way to do this? The current trend seems to be to partner with the best.

Google has just announced a partnership with Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai to bring the Android operating system to cars soon. Whilst Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Apple who are also prepping a new version of its iOS operating system that will bring the iPhone’s apps and features to compatible auto dashboards.

Based on these collaborations alone, there are obvious car-to-gadget interactivity that have inexhaustible opportunities with Siri or OK Google. Reading messages aloud, replying via voice command or directing you to ‘home’ or ‘work’ depending on the time of day, just to name a few. Yet it’s what’s to come that should really get us excited as the prospects are leaning towards intuitive technology and seamless connectivity (…and our mouths are watering).

Currently 23 million cars on the road globally are connected to the internet in some capacity, according to research firm IHS Automotive. By 2020 that figure is expected to rise to 152 million. Therefore the goal of in-car technologies should aim to make using web services a more seamless part of the driving experience as this would allow for contextual conversations. For example, push messages at the right time and right place could offer a free car wash or notify drivers of new models available for test drives as you cruise past a dealership, direct you to the cheapest petrol station in the area, or remind you to pack your golf clubs because you’ve got a game with old-mate Tom this afternoon.

So whether they help you avoid traffic jams and speed cameras, find and (un)lock your car, warn off pesky parking inspectors or monitor your fatigue, app technology is continually developing across car brands. Further to this, as far as dashboard enhancements go we could see heads-up displays on windshields that allow drivers to navigate through thick fog and music systems that automatically pick-up what was playing on your smartphone before you hopped in the car then seamlessly continue playing it.

Due to the versatility and flexibility of apps and dashboard options there is still a lot that technology can input here to direct the future of connected cars and bring together previously siloed information from the GPS system, the engine control unit, entertainment and music.

As the world becomes more reliant on technology and ultimately the internet, we love that the car industry are forerunners in creating a more innovative world where our gadgets become intuitive with us, each other and become integral features associated with future designs.

Be that in car or via mobile device, some of these technologies will help keep us safe, some will give us information like never before and some will let us kick back and just enjoy the ride. Whatever they do (I’ve touched on the fact that the best is yet to come), what we love as marketers is witnessing these in-car technologies act as utilities that change, benefit and impact our daily lives and ultimately lead to us building an emotional connection with the brand.

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