We have, once again, been led astray by Hollywood. Back to the Future filled our heads with visions of soaring Deloreans, but in reality, the automobile industry has some pretty glaring flaws it needs to address before we can attempt flight.
It seems like everything in our daily lives is becoming connected. But very often the car is left out of this conversation, and it would benefit greatly from a healthy dose of mobile connectivity.
The product lifecycle for the car makes it incredibly hard for the automobile industry to keep up with the rapid pace of consumer technology.
An excellent example is the touchscreen console systems that can be found in many 2012 models. While tablet and smartphone makers are improving touchscreen technology all the time, car console displays use, at best, technology developed in 2010.
Even with a three-to-five year product cycle, there is plenty of room for the car of the future to pop up today. Here are three connected features that could and should already be available for your ride.
Perhaps the most antiquated part of buying a new car is the massive book of instructions the dealership hands you along with your new keys. These manuals then just occupy space in your glove box for the next few years, getting pulled out if you have to change a fuse or check your warranty information.
A connected, mobile owner’s manual could give manufacturers a built-in way to reach out to customers to ensure they know about important product information, updates, and product recall information.
A mobile owner’s manual coupled with the car’s sensors could detect and interpret early stage problems before they evolve into a more expensive and daunting repair. The potential here is endless.
Some manufacturers are already embracing this. But this is first generation and can always be improved upon.
Do you have a pile of receipts in your glove box detailing the services you’ve had performed on your car? That should become a thing of the past. There are opportunities to digitally document maintenance performed, as well as remind you when your next scheduled service should be. In fact, a mobile product could schedule it for you and then send you the scheduling information.
In addition to being able to provide users with a better service experience, the data collected would give manufacturers a unique look at when their models need specific repairs. Dealerships could alert users before they see a problem, based on crowdsourced information.
Or, imagine how valuable a digital history of a car’s maintenance records would be for used-car sales. The records could easily be transferred with the title of the car, taking the guesswork out of how well a car was maintained.
Sensors have opened up a world of possibilities for monitoring the inanimate. Tire pressure. Gas levels. Security (doors locked, windows up). Location. Usnig apps like Find My Car Smarter, you don’t have to wait for the technology to be built into the car in order to take advantage of it.
A sensor attached to, or inside, your gas tank could connect with your GPS to know how far you are planning on going and the route you will be taking, and alert you to the last gas station on your route prior to you running out of gas.
Tire sensors could not only alert the driver to low tire pressure. They could tie into a driver’s AAA account, sending a notice that a flat needs to be fixed, along with the location of the car. Once services are rendered, the app could even finalize payment, all with very minimal involvement from the driver.
Once the product cycle catches up with the Internet of Things, the car of the future becomes reality. Sensors built into every nook and cranny inside the car will give the driver and the manufacturer incredible insight into the way the car is used, and will inform the features of tomorrow.
You’ll expect your car to recognize you upon entering, and the car will do more than just adjusting your seat to your preferred position. It will adjust to your driving style. It will know where you are most likely to go, which playlist/podcast/book you want to hear, how you want your A/C set, when you last serviced your vehicle, and much more.
The more we know about our cars makes them increasingly more valuable to us as drivers. Certainly more valuable than hovering off the ground.
Clay Benson is web associate director mobile consultancy Mutual Mobile and has over 10 years experience building and developing for the web. He has been with Mutual Mobile since 2010 and has played an active role working with Kelley Blue Book.