Automotive/ Mobility/ Social
Couple of weeks ago my car started having problems with its steering wheel, on inspection by the un-friendly service manager, I was told that the software needs an update. I was also informed that there has been a recall of fuel pumps for my batch of cars, information that the car company failed to convey in time. This got me wondering, why can't there be an option where the software gets a direct download into the car as and when an update is available. Why can't there be an option where if there is a parts recall, the message gets flashed directly in the car, based on the make, year and batch of the car.
A quick search for such options reveled multiple products available in the market (Europe/ US), take for example, the Delphi Car Connectivity Service. This basically provides for remote access through a cloud system that connects your vehicle to your smartphone by which you can remotely monitor your vehicle's overall health, performance issues and track driving behavior at any given point in time. Imagine this, based on your vehicle's performance, you can practically predict when you are likely to need a part replacement or an engine oil top-up. You can set various performance alerts for your vehicle and have access to the nearest service center all on your smartphone. At a concept level, what Delphi has done is - combined context (vehicle), remote access (location based) and mobile (anytime access) to come up with a diagnostic service, that may well be the answer to vehicles becoming smarter (on their own).
To extend the above logic, lets for a moment, assume that a vehicle could talk to another vehicle or to a physical space or even a person. Essentially paving the way for a platform meant to undertake multiple activities performed by your vehicle, without your interference. For example, can your friend get alerts the minute you are closer to where you were supposed to meet him/her. Can your vehicle alert the restaurants that you intend to visit, even before you approach the place, who in turn may end up making you offers/ deals. Well, all this is already possible given that products like Garmin Streetpilot, with Foursquare and Glympse integration are already available in the market, essentially bringing in location services, loyalty management and social media on one platform anchored to a vehicle. Looking at the concept of smart mobility in the automotive landscape, one can be assured of some very interesting concepts to be introduced in the near future and some that we can expect to become industry standard.