The internet governs every corner of our lives these days. It’s on our phones, in our homes and cafes. It’s soon to be in our watches. This giant, interconnected web has opened up new worlds of possibilities. It has changed the way we live our lives. Everything from shopping to gaming to communicating has altered irreversibly. Yet, isn’t it strange that our cars remain relatively internet free?
Of course, we always have our smartphones with us in the car. However, the car itself (until now) has had no wifi or 4G hotspot. The actual vehicle has never connected to the internet like our phones and other devices. This looks set to change with almost every new car in production is being made ‘internet ready’. This means that it will include a wifi or 4G hotspot that travels with the car.
The internet has been slow to occupy the car space. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, car manufacturers wait to see what technology takes hold. The development of a car can take up to five years, by which time, technology could have moved on. Secondly, there’s the issue of safety. Portable, internet devices distract attention while driving. There needs to be strict safety measures in place. However, we are overcoming these problems and the internet is creeping in. Here’s how it will change driving forever.
Music and entertainment
First of all, the internet will open the music and entertainment world wide open. Rather than relying on traditional radio or CD players, our cars will access our entire libraries. That means accessing our Pandora accounts for personalised music play. Cars will access our Spotify playlists and other streaming services. it will allow us to curate and choose our road trip soundtracks better than ever. It will also open up the possibilities of entertainment for passengers. Cars will be able to access your Netflix or TV streaming services. Passengers can catch up on their favourite series in the car. The most technologically advanced cars already make the most of this. Look out for it in all future models.
Sync with our smartphones
Soon, our cars will recognise and sync with our smartphones. The car will be able to access specific apps and harness control through the car. For example, this could mean displaying app controls on the dashboard. This could be emails, texts or social networks. These apps could be controlled through the dashboard or connected to steering wheel controls. It will give drivers access to essential apps while driving including navigational tools. The only issue here is the safety of using these applications. It is something that developers are working on and could be solved with the following trick.
Voice command and text to speech
The only safe way to operate apps and internet services in a car is through voice command. Looking down for prolonged periods of time causes distraction and can lead to accidents. Developers are fast working on the best possible voice recognition systems. They’ll allow us to dictate emails and texts through speech. Our voice will control functions and navigate through options. Anyone who’s used Apple’s Siri function will understand the concept. More importantly, a text to speech function will read out your emails and texts directly to you.
Here’s where connectivity in cars gets really sophisticated. Some manufacturers are working on systems that will benefit those with health problems. The most notable example is in drivers with diabetes. An internet connected system can monitor the driver’s blood sugar level and alert them when it is low. More impressively, it can instantly direct them to a store, pharmacy or restaurant. The possibilities here are endless.
Car specific apps
Not only will cars harness the power of your existing apps, but many will have their own. These apps will be specific to the car and will bring you and your vehicle even closer. It will help monitor engine problems, mileage and efficient driving techniques. It can even act as a remote control or tracking device. Examples include the Ford Sync and the Porsche Car Connect. Our friends at Inchcape Porsche tell us that this app is just the start of internet connectivity.
Augmented reality is perhaps the hottest topic in vehicle technology circles right now. Most car manufacturers are experimenting with the idea and concepts. In its simplest form, this technology will display additional information on the windscreen itself. This could be navigational information in the form of arrows or ‘ghost cars’ that you would follow. It could simply point out places of interest, petrol stations or restaurants. The possibilities of this technology are boundless and we are just at the beginning.
Using the internet, your car won’t just talk to you, it will talk to others around it. Cars will connect with each other on a fundamental level. They will pass on information about navigation and traffic updates. They will transmit their speed and direction. This will help your car assess whether you are in danger of crashing and take evasive action. It will know how to avert you from danger by reading other cars. This system is designed to increase safety and reduce accidents significantly.
Find parking and count down traffic lights
The primary purpose of internet connected cars will be to improve safety. However, there are other benefits. Some practical uses include the ability to locate and move into empty parking spaces. You car will collect information from parking lots and assess the closest free parking space. Any city driver will appreciate this feature! In the future, we may also see a traffic light countdown in our vehicles. Our cars will pick up signals from traffic lights and let us know how long before it turns to green or red. It will help vehicles slow down in time and hopefully avoid a few accidents.
As you can see, internet connected cars will alter our entire driving culture. Our roads will become safer and our cars more intuitive. They’ll help reduce congestion and they’ll keep our eyes on the road. Most importantly of all, they’ll read the road and other users before us. They’ll take evasive action and keep us safe. The most exciting part is that we’re just getting started.