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The New Connected Car

The New Connected Car

The interaction between technology and driver has to be frictionless, maximizing safety, while also assisting driving. The interface has to be carefully thought through and tested in order for car manufacturers to get it just right.

The rise of Internet availability, data and connectivity over the past decade-plus have caused a fundamental shift in the way we use technology to interact with our surroundings.

Connected homes, fitness devices, TVs, watches, taxi services and even medical devices have emerged as a result of exponential smartphone innovation and widespread use.

It would have seemed only natural – inevitable, in fact – that a connected car would rise to better assist users and more seamlessly integrate the world around the driver into the car. In fact, mobile-technology group GSMA predicts that every car will be connected by 2025.

In order for this to be fully realized, the interaction between technology and driver has to be frictionless, maximizing safety, while also assisting driving. The interface has to be carefully thought through and tested in order for car manufacturers to get it just right.

As it stands now, the driver-technology interaction dynamic is something that’s up for solving. Recent reports find drivers aren’t using a majority of the technology built into cars: 20% of new-vehicle owners never have used 16 of the 33 technology features measured, 38% have never used mobile routers and 32% have never used the built-in apps.

There’s potential for the connected car to evolve and grow to not only better assist the driving experience, but ensure safety as well. While some aspects such as Google Glass for your car may be superfluous, there are real areas where in-car connectivity can help drivers everywhere. Below are three areas for growth of the connected car:

Smart Parking

There’s nothing like the stress of parking, especially trying to find a convenient spot. There are a finite number of parking spaces for a seemingly infinite number of cars, and cities across the country struggle to meet the demand. In extreme cases, spots can go for the price of a house.

More commonly, people must invest large amounts of time in their commutes to find a spot and bundles of money from their budgets. Parking apps have emerged to provide an easier, cheaper and more efficient solution to the parking problem. Drawing from the Uber-inspired on-demand market, these apps provide consumers with local garage availability, as well as the opportunity to book and pay a lower rate for a space in advance.

As a successful smartphone app, it’s easy to see the draw of an integrated parking reservation and payment system included in connected cars. For the first time, people could monitor and secure parking spaces on their front dashboard as easily as they browse music listings. There’s no saying that parking can’t be integrated seamlessly into the driving experience, creating a frictionless experience for people, just as other technologies such as radio and air conditioning have been in past eras.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Connectivity

While the connected car itself offers great promise, there’s further opportunity to connect vehicles to one another. Waze has been successful at monitoring traffic and advising drivers of the least-congested routes, but cars with networks for short-range communications can interact with other nearby cars to gather such information as speed and potential hazards, creating a network of safer, easier driving.

By sending notifications of black ice or warning drivers of an upcoming accident, the connected car could actually prepare you for what’s ahead on the road. AT&T and Audi already are collaborating on the integrated navigation, Internet database and Wi-Fi system. We may see soon enough that the future of the connected car in fact involves a networked web of numerous connected cars in the vicinity.

Car-Status Monitoring

In an effort to provide more efficient and safe ways to drive, devices are being created to help drivers monitor their car. Tools such as the Automatic, Mojio and Zubie collect data to inform people the most fuel-efficient ways to press the pedal, the car’s location and more.

The data collected acts as a “Fitbit for your car.” The connected car is also a way to ensure the safety of drivers, particularly teens who live in a world of multitasking. The car could provide information about the location of the driver, how fast he or she is going and automatically call for help in an accident.

While it has yet to completely catch on with the general public, the prospect of new technology outfitting the connected car offers endless promise.

With in-car assistance informing the driver about affordable parking availability, local traffic and hazard information and convenient engine diagnostics and car status updates, it’s clear that the connected car one day soon will be an inseparable part of the driving experience.

Aashish Dalal is co-founder and CEO of ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based on-demand parking app. Follow him on Twitter @theaashishdalal.

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