The Connected Car

The Connected Car. That may be a term you’ve heard already. Perhaps not. Most people can grasp the concept quickly enough – the connected car is one that has a technology platform that is wirelessly connected to a network (i.e., your cellular phone provider), or different networks (wireless internet, NFC, Bluetooth, etc.) The connected car can do things for the driver and passengers, like, make a phone call, get directions, stream music or a movie into the car, etc.

The Connected Car - Seatco can update any car's in-dash technology, and make it look like a factory installation

The Connected Car – photo from AT&T

But, as the old showbiz saying goes, “Folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The connected car of the future (and by the way, “the future” in this case means mid-priced mainstream production models sold in the next 10 years) will be able to do things like join a convoy of other vehicles on the highway, sort of like a flock of birds, that will communicate with each other wirelessly. So that when one brakes up front, the other vehicles start slowing down. The first car may swerve to dodge a pothole, but not the rest of the cars in line. They’ll already know to go around it. If an emergency vehicle comes up quickly behind the last vehicle, as soon the emergency vehicle signal hits the last car in line, the vehicles in front will know a nanosecond later, and start to pull over.

Your car on its own will time red lights in urban driving, it will know where an open parking space is on the street, or in a garage, and, tell you what the cost per hour is to park in that space, and tell you when the garage closes, or if the parking space switches over to a no-parking zone during certain hours of the day. Your car will avoid pedestrians and people on bikes, and the odd stray dog. There will be fewer rear-end collisions, because even if one of the drivers near you is having an argument with her teenage daughter, or a guy is texting on the phone, and neither one of them is paying enough attention to the road, their cars will be paying attention, and the brakes will be applied before someone’s rear bumper gets hit.

The software in the dash of the connected car that you will own very shortly will allow you to be able to pull into a Starbucks drive-through line, wirelessly send your order (it will remember your regular order), send the charge card information to Starbucks, and you’ll be there and gone quickly. If you go to other drive-throughs, it will remember those preferences as well. There won’t be any card-swiping when you buy gas; the connected car will relay the card information to the gas station when you tell it to do so.

It will remember that you like to hear loud alternative rock on your morning commute, and that you like straight-ahead jazz at a lower volume level during your ride home. It will remember that when you’re looking for a place to eat in a city you’ve never been to before that your order of preference is: Thai food, steakhouses, and seafood restaurants, in descending order.

All of this is not merely “possible”, it will be here very soon. The connected car you buy from a new-car dealer in the future in 2025 (eight years from now) will have this technology in it. If you buy an expensive car, it will be here sooner.

The average American spends 46 minutes a day in his or her car. Theses technologies aim to make that time safer, more productive, and more fulfilling. Hopefully, those goals will be realized.


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