Connected cars are shifting into higher gear

Connected cars are here. And they are here to stay.

Self-driving cars may not be a reality tomorrow, but over the next few years, we'll be seeing more and more aspects of them on our roads. However, connected cars, which exchange data over the internet, are here. And they are here to stay.

For the moment, communicating cars make up a small ten percent of the vehicles on our roads. In the near future, that number will rise drastically.

Soon every vehicle on our roads will have innovative technologies on board, all of them collecting valuable data: are you a slow driver? Which roads do you often take? Etcetera. According to the FIA, the International Automobile Association, this connectivity will not only make traffic safer, but also more eco-friendly.

Safety first

Safety is still one of the most important selling propositions in the automotive industry. That is why it makes up the bulk of investments in the field of car apps. The possibilities for safety and well-being are nearly endless: Volkswagen's Emergency Assist, that automatically stops the car in case of an emergency, is already here. In the future, numerous innovations will rise to the surface: monitoring drivers' heart rates and stress levels, adjusting the driving conditions inside the car to make the ride safer, etcetera. Even fatigue detection on the driver's face will be a reality.

As illustrated in the graph below, this focus on safety and well-being will not shift over the next five years: in the world of the connected car, they will remain crucial innovative focus points.

Other crucial areas in the field of car apps will be: autonomous driving, entertainment, mobility management, vehicle management and home integration.

The mobile office

In the field of on-board entertainment, innovations are perhaps most urgent: already today consumers find it evident they can connect their smartphones and wearables to their car in a user-friendly way, and they already expect they can play their favourite music through the on-board stereo. As consumer demands will only become stronger in the future, the automotive industry will have to rise to the occasion. Trust us: soon every car will become an office on wheels, in which you will have access to e-mails and social media, and in which you will set up videoconferences with business partners in no time. Not only will your mobile office be connected to you and your devices, but it will also be linked with your home and your office.

Because of the technological innovations in mobility, your mobile office will even reach its destination faster and more ecological, and you will be able to handle it in a more sustainable manner. The data your car collects about your driving style might inspire you in driving more eco-friendly. Through real-time traffic intel, the connected car is able to calculate the most efficient route and bypass traffic jams. Moreover, any possible mechanical flaw will be detected before it causes any problem.

© Volvo releases their concept for a self-driving car. A large 25" display can be used while ignoring the road.

Autonomous driving: not a distant future

The self-driving car has been on constructors' wishlists for years now: companies such as Mercedes, BMW and Tesla have already shown a glimpse of their achievements, but the most concrete self-driving car is the one Google is developing. Due to various circumstances, a completely self-driving car may not be happening tomorrow - think for instance of the unpredictability of traffic as an important factor - but in the coming years a number of functionalities will definitely be automated. Already today, you see autonomously parking cars on the road, and the next few years, even more automated functionalities will emerge.

The fact is that all these innovations open the door to new digital revenuestreams. The market for car apps is undoubtedly one with a lot of growth potential over the next few years, and a lot of parties have set their eyes on it. Apart from the car constructors, Apple (CarPlay) and Google (Android Auto) are becoming serious contenders.

(Sources: FIA, Volkswagen, Volvo, BMW, PwC and De Morgen)
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