Personalising the in-car experience

In our previous blog on CES 2016, we highlighted how new technology is enabling us to stay connected while we are in the car. Interestingly, many car manufacturers launched new connected services during the consumer electronics show, demonstrating how much the automotive and communications industries are becoming intertwined. General Motors’ new app is a good example of connectivity applied to the automotive sector: it enables consumers’ smartphones to interact with their vehicle, even allowing drivers to start their car remotely, adjust the temperature and park via their smartphones or tablets, effectively showing an alternative option to the trusty car key. Ford also discussed a joint venture with Amazon to explore how a connected car could talk to your smart home and vice versa, and Volvo announced a new media streaming service for self-driving cars.

The number of initiatives turning cars into a connected device is clearly on the rise, and aligns with the growing consumer expectation to be “always on”. From a technical point of view, however, this raises a few questions:

  • Should manufacturers ditch bespoke integrated solutions for a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) approach?
  • How can consumers access their personal content inside the car whether it is on their local device(s) or at home?
  • Can technology create a transportation experience that is genuinely personal for each driver?

Integrated systems accessible from the head unit have long enabled drivers to access maps, weather forecast and fuel levels, enabling automotive manufacturers to maintain control over the driving experience and ensuring that motorists focus on the road rather than tinkering with buttons. While a BYOD approach provides more flexibility for consumers, it doesn’t always respond to these core requirements. This is why we believe that the right solution is a hybrid approach using standards-based technology, combining the security and reliability of the embedded in-car system with the flexibility and connectivity of BYOD.

Connectivity opens new doors for a more personal connection between the manufacturer and the driver. On the one hand, the head unit can aggregate data about the different car subsystems and store this information locally for later retrieval. On the other, connectivity enables drivers and passengers to access additional content, such as new or updated maps and music libraries, for each trip simply by downloading them via the cloud. The customer’s usage patterns can be fed back to the manufacturer via secured networks to enable them to create a new, more personal experience based on the driver’s favourite destinations, driving style, preferred music genres, etc. The information can even be utilised to ensure that the car delivers health and safety messages in a timely fashion for driver safety.

While we’re still a long way away from turning our cars into robotic butlers, 2016 is the year that personalisation begins, and we will see our cars start to tune into our habits to help us enjoy the road more than ever.

To learn more about ACCESS’ solutions for the Automotive industry, please visit our website.

ACCESS will also be showing its solutions for the connected car at the GENIVI members meeting in Paris, France (April 26-29) and the Automotive Electronics Conference in Ludwigsburg, Germany (June 14-15).

We’re better connected: What we learned at CES

The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) demonstrated that there really is no end to innovation in the technology world. The never-ending stream of new gadgets popping up at CES 2016 confirmed that connectivity is pervading every aspect of our lives, as demonstrated by the following three trends:

TV Screens: Sleeker and with more pixels

TVs are always a must see at CES. From the curved screens of last year, we have now moved to ones that can be rolled up and, more excitingly, to better resolutions than we could ever have imagined. This is enabled by new compression standards like Ultra High Definition (UHD) and, more recently, High Dynamic Range. HDR content and displays demonstrate a much greater range of brightness and luminosity, making images on the TV become closer to what we see before us in real life – effectively delivering a much more lifelike and immersive experience for viewers.

Wearables: Health and fitness is not just for the New Year

While the first few weeks of January sees a glut of health and fitness related products – from celebrity workout DVDs to smoothie makers – it also piggy-backed onto the continuing popularity of wearables to become a massive trend at CES, combining practicality with style. There was an abundance of smart clothes, including connected leggings and baby socks that alert parents in case a baby has problems breathing, as well as smart shoes that can substitute as a personal trainer. The race to connect continues, but this year’s CES has proved that consumers were planning to achieve this with style.

Connected ‘’Smart’’ Cars: We will all become Knight riders

When Knight Rider, the show featuring a fully autonomous car with artificial intelligence, was aired back in the 1980s, the thought of the real world having autonomous cars was pure fantasy. This year’s CES saw these dreams become reality, making it ever more apparent that cars are transforming into fully autonomous vehicles. New technologies demonstrated at CES aim to transform the passenger experience with panoramic screens that provide a range of infotainment and multimedia features. A multitude of features, such as turning on headlamps and opening garage doors automatically when a vehicle reaches a certain distance from home, are also enabling cars to evolve into real-life companions that can support day-to-day life.

The in-car infotainment experience is something we are heavily involved in through a range of embedded solutions that are integrated with automotive human-machine-interfaces (HMI), device management, dashboard and multimedia systems. Our solutions offer car manufacturers and tier-one suppliers the added confidence of deploying market proven technologies that deliver interactive content in resource constrained environments.

At CES, we showed our latest automotive innovations at the GENIVI showcase at CES, while multiscreen enthusiasts could see how our solutions deliver exciting new seamless and secure experiences across all screens at the Telechips suite at the Palazzo Hotel, or on the INNOPIA stand on the show floor.

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Connecting with the Millennial driver

The two trillion dollar automotive industry is going through a seismic shift. Alongside massive demand from emerging economies, new electric based vehicles and tougher emission regulations; the notion of Big Data and connectivity is starting to dramatically alter the way drivers and passengers interact with carmakers and service providers.

Of the 70 million passenger vehicles sold each year, Millennials accounted for 27% of new car sales in the US last year, up from 18% in 2010, making them the second largest group of new car buyers. This group, which has grown up in a connected world with ubiquitous access to the Internet, is also the most likely to make buying decisions based on connected car functionality.

Millennials and many other car users expect the car to be a hub for information sharing and intelligent application usage. This can range from collaborative satellite navigation system like Waze that allow drivers to easily share their knowledge, such as diverted routes, accidents and traffic jams to interactive entertainment systems and fault diagnostic data, useful for car maintenance and breakdown services.

In a parallel to the Internet, with its free services like Google Maps or Dropbox, many of these Millennial car owners are prepared to gain useful services in exchange for data. A recent global study released by SDL found that 89% of Millennials in the US and roughly 75% in Europe would accept brands tracking personal data provided they’ve built trust with the user. Another study conducted last year by New York based agency MRY found that Millennials value cars and smartphones for similar reasons, including accomplishing daily tasks, keeping connected with friends and family, exploring new places and shopping.

To address this increased consumer demand for personalised information and media services, car manufacturers are developing hybrid infotainment systems based on embedded functionality. These systems support both the driver and passenger device to project a vehicle-optimised version of popular apps from the smartphone to the dashboard and rear-seat screens.

These converging trends provide a great opportunity for OEMs to strengthen their relationships with those Millennials who show a willingness to share personal information to personalise the car experience. In order for OEMs to offer custom experiences to their customers, solutions that provide better driver insight such as ACCESS Twine™ will prove crucial, allowing OEMs to receive information about the driver’s habits, media consumption, devices connected to the infotainment system and combining them with real-time feedback on the car use.

This granular data on the driver and the vehicle will enable manufacturers to improve the in-car services, customise the content catalogue available to the driver and passenger, offer tailored information about the next petrol station or rest area, and even deliver targeted advertising directly to the dashboard.

With the connected car concept still relatively new, developing the skill sets and technologies to offer innovative use cases to a largely untapped market offers early access to a multi-billion dollar market.

Is 2015 the year when the car turns into a fully functional media platform?

This blog is part of our 2015 focus on the connected car and the role it will play in enabling connected entertainment everywhere.

Consulting firm Accenture (ACN) reports that technology ranks as the most important selling point for 39% of U.S. car buyers, almost triple the 14% who care most about horsepower and handling. This new trend has been further confirmed by OEM demonstrations at CES and Mobile World Congress, two of the biggest trade shows of the year. Visitors to both exhibitions were able to discover how car companies are hoping to digitise the automotive experience by using telematics and in-car communication to create new business models through the Internet of Things. For example, telematics can provide OEMs and customers with considerable and valuable data on assets.

The start of the year has already seen a host of innovations, demonstrating that this really is the year when cars will evolve into media platforms that will eventually drive and park themselves, allowing its passengers to work, communicate and relax as easily as they would in an office or at home. At CES, Hyundai showed how a car could be unlocked and started with the simple tap of a smart-watch, while BMW was able to park a vehicle by simply saying “go park yourself” to a smart-watch. Audi went even further, auto-piloting a vehicle more than 500 miles from Palo Alto to Las Vegas for the show.

Although autonomous driving was a real highlight at both CES and Mobile World Congress with impressive demos on display, it has a long way to go before it moves from technically feasible to commercially viable. More and more companies, such as Ford and Hyundai, are increasingly positioning themselves as mobility companies including enabling everything from car-sharing, data driven analytics, parking guidance and payment, tolling, user-based insurance services and in-car entertainment. These services, which can transform the car industry in the near future, rely on advanced data capture and analytics combined with in-car entertainment.

There was also evidence to suggest that rear-seat entertainment will prosper in 2015 with the help of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) strategies enabling tablets, smartphones, gaming devices and other portable media players to become an integral part of rear-seat entertainment. BYOD has opened up the market to the majority of consumers who want to use their smartphones or tablets in the backseat rather than pay for an expensive embedded in-car solution. It is likely that we will see OEMs leverage the BYOD trend in the coming months and use this to add value to their products.

Software solutions such as ACCESS Twine™, NetFront™ Browser NX Automotive Profile and NetFront™ Living Connect, which are tailored for in-car infotainment, automated data and analytics functionality, can enable the car industry to easily offer connected services without requiring additional R&D or investment in hardware.

Providing new services such as remote diagnostics, preventive alerts, more efficient servicing and tailored insurance, all help increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. By integrating data, car OEMs will be able to truly understand consumers as individuals: it will be interesting to see which companies best capitalise on this in 2015.

How the Connected Car is Transforming In-Car Entertainment

This is the first of our Automotive focussed blogs on The Multiscreen Blog. These blogs will discuss current and upcoming trends, as the car becomes another channel for connected entertainment.

In the past, the purchase of a new car could also spell the end of the relationship between the manufacturer and the consumer if the vehicle was not going to be ‘dealer maintained’. However, the advent of connectivity in the car with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) developments means that OEMs can now forge a closer bond with consumers.

The connected car era has enabled the vehicle to become a fully evolved ecosystem providing a richer user experience and a host of new product offerings such as advanced diagnostics, enhanced driving safety, voice recognition, automotive apps, regularly updated car firmware and rear seat entertainment. These new features are increasingly becoming integral in the buying process both for high end and midrange cars, and enable OEMs to increase monetization opportunities over the life span of the vehicle.

The consumer desire for increased connectivity can be partly attributed to the connected car’s ability to control cost by proactively addressing performance issues. For example, new services that allow easier identification of wear and tear ensure problems are easily addressed and solved. Receiving performance related insurance could help offer a fairer tariff system based on driver performance rather than age and ultimately ensure lower rates for many road users.

However, data has a bigger role to play in transforming the automotive industry. Data and analytics enable the car to automatically communicate levels of wear and tear, providing drivers with accurate information to share with mechanics without waiting for the compulsory car inspection. Efficiently aggregated and analysed, data can also help the industry to offer tailored advertising and media strategies. For example, a tyre company could advertise for its products directly via the head unit as soon as the car informs the driver that its tyres need changing. OEMs and Tier Ones have already shown their desire to protect this data through agreements on privacy and data security principles that regulate how automakers collect, use and share information.

Connectivity in the car will enable a greater range of services to become available. For example, rear-seat entertainment has moved from an OEM controlled experience to a more personalised one that integrates connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and more. This trend forecasts increased use of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in the car and the possible advent of ‘All seat entertainment’. An immediate consequence of Internet access everywhere and increased media consumption on every connected device has led to what is referred to as the ‘multiscreen era’ in the entertainment industry. In the multiscreen world, consumers demand a seamless experience on every device in and out of the home, and now even in their car. This creates additional challenges for OEMs and Tier Ones as they look to safeguard content on billions of different screens across the globe.

We created the first mobile web browser in the 1980s for NTT DoCoMo and we have seen the market evolve to offer more connectivity on every screen, from smartphones to game consoles and smart TVs. For us, it was only a matter of time before entertainment pervaded every aspect of our lives, including our cars.

Yet, to enable consumers to get a seamless experience everywhere, OEMs and Tier 1s need solutions that bring the latest connected entertainment experiences to the vehicle. This is why we have developed a suite of software products for the automotive industry including ACCESS Twine™, a multiscreen management platform that provides this seamless experience on any device. Furthermore, the solution can be deployed by any OEM and Tier 1 without additional developments, and caters for both embedded screen and BYOD offerings. A complete solution for the automotive sector, ACCESS Twine provides OEMs with full control over branding and the in-car experience.

We live in the age of automation in which we can talk to our phones and remotely pilot drones. It’s high time that the car industry implemented solutions that enable vehicles to become smarter in order to play a leading role in the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution that is taking off right now.

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