From CES to the Detroit Auto Show, it has been a big month for in-car connectivity that enables vehicle diagnostics, streaming entertainment, telematics and navigation. Ford, GM, Google and Audi unveiled new connected vehicle platforms and features, and AT&T stole the carrier limelight with LTE Connected Services.
Plus, two industry giants announced that they are working to enable vehicles to continuously record road position at accuracies of eight inches or less. Shoppers are becoming more open to sharing their personal location with retailers. And the U.S. GAO issued a report on location privacy related to vehicle technology and applications. It has been a busy month.
The first mass-marketed connected vehicle system was Ford Sync, which now boasts one million users and seems poised to grow rapidly with the release of an updated version. The Mustang will be the first of the company’s models with the new Ford Sync, which lets drivers use voice to activate iPhone and Android apps. New voice activated apps include Parkmobile, a parking space finder, and the Domino app, which lets me command my car to order a pizza, just the way I like it. GM announced its first LTE-enabled vehicles for about 10 of its models. Fast connectivity in vehicles will transform in-car experiences and hopefully not kill us.
Carrier Ringmaster. AT&T wrangled itself into the center ring of car connectivity announcements. The carrier has won a multi-year exclusive agreement to enable Telsa with high speed connectivity. Despite Audi’s collaborative relationship with T-Mobile, AT&T was able to steal some work away from T-Mobile by getting a deal to supply connectivity for some Audi models. AT&T has also teamed up with Ericsson, Amdocs, Jasper Wireless and others to create AT&T Drive, a mobile platform for developing LTE connected vehicle services.
Pathway to a Jetson Car. Two industry biggies, Continental and Here, are working together to create an end-to-end connected high-precision mapping and vehicle system offering for OEMs. The system will serve as the basis of highly automated driving functionality with the first objective of continuously determining road position to within three to eight inches. That’s quite a task. The maps will include road information that will feed vehicles with information to allow them to react to changing road conditions or speed limit changes, automatically. Continental was the first automotive supplier to be granted a test license for automated driving on public roads in Nevada.
See Me Now. The percentage of consumers willing to share their current location via GPS with retailers nearly doubled year-over-year to 36 percent, according to a new IBM study of more than 300,000 global consumers. The study distinguished four distinct groups of consumers, differentiated by their interest in and use of social, location and mobile technologies while shopping. The largest group, 40 percent of shoppers, use social, location and mobile technologies, but don’t utilize them for buying products. The second largest group, almost 30 percent of shoppers, will use these technologies for making purchases. The rest of the shoppers sit on either pole of being tech laggards or hyper technology users.
In-Car Privacy under the Microscope. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has looked into privacy issues for in-car location-based services. The GAO examined how 10 companies are using location data and if they share it, and how the policies and practices of these companies align with industry recommended privacy practices. Each of the companies stated that they do not share personally identifiable location data with marketing companies or data brokers. The GAO found that not all of the companies were following industry recommended privacy policies. The report was prepared for the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law of the Judiciary Committee. The companies that the GAO chose to examine included TeleNav (ScoutGPS Navigation), Google Maps (Navigation), TomTom (LIVE Services), Garmin Traffic, Ford Sync, Chrysler UConnect, Honda AcuraLink, GM OnStar, Toyota (Lexus Enform and Toyota Entune), and Nissan Infiniti Connection and CARWINGS.
Retailers are Getting Closer. Qualcomm has made its Gimbal proximity beacons commercially available, which are reportedly accurate to one foot and work indoors and outdoors. Gimbal is a proximity platform for brands to engage customers’ mobile devices with contextual communication, using a combination of physical location, activity, time and personal interests. The intent is to increase the relevance of content delivered to end users’ devices to allow retailers, content providers and developers to send personalized high-value content to mobile devices.