The connected car of the future
Thousands of transportation-related mobile apps can do everything from guiding drivers to the nearest gas station to boosting employee productivity or helping to improve fleet performance
“We are at an interesting point in telematics where change is picking up, we are re-inventing ourselves and almost catching up with the consumer electronics industry, but there is a risk in identifying the trends from the trendy,” Kevin Link, a senior VP at Verizon Telematics told Automotive Industries in a recent interview. By 2017, Verizon Telematics estimates that 60% of new cars will feature connected car solutions. The company was formed after Verizon took over Hughes Telematics in 2012.
According to Link, factors that are having a significant impact on the industry include tethered and embedded solutions; network configurations such as 3G and 4G; subscription-based models; the evolution of usage-based insurance; data privacy; driver distraction; smartphone integration; and global expansion.
“We’ve got to answer for all of these and there are no clear answers, only ‘fifty shades of gray’ on any one of these topics”. Verizon has identified five future trends – customers will change their priorities; business models will change dramatically; new services will be introduced and old services will disappear; network security will see great innovation; and the winners will be the most flexible providers.
The number of telematics and infotainment subscribers in the U.S. is expected to grow to 27 million by 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan. According to industry estimates, awareness for connected services is at 84% in the U.S. “Customers are demanding connectivity and want access to their favorite mobile applications on the road,” Link added. “I believe that the next ‘killer app’ [in the car] is going to be the ability to change the killer app so that you don’t inconvenience the customer. ‘Killer apps’ change over time, so cars must have the ability to adapt.”
Verizon Telematics collected two awards at the at the 10th Annual Telematics Update Awards held on the eve of the Telematics Detroit show – Best Insurance Telematics Product or Service Launch and Best Aftermarket Device or Solution for its In-Drive® solution – a self-installed aftermarket telematics solution that can connect to most vehicles sold in the US after 1996. With In-Drive, customers without access to embedded telematics systems are able to receive a comprehensive set of connected services, including safety and security, convenience, diagnostics and emissions, family monitoring and data analysis.
Customers have the ability to instantly locate their vehicles, personalize driving zones and even receive notifications in real time when their vehicles depart and arrive at a specified location through a customized website, mobile application, email or text message.
A customized smartphone application and web portal provide convenient access to many of these services. The In-Drive Automotive Data Services comprehensive portfolio offers value to insurance and data industries as well as end consumers. These features enable third-party data aggregators and insurance companies to more effectively price their products and create highly tailored services, based on actual driving behavior.
Additional Safety & Security and Diagnostics & Emissions services, packaged with the In-Drive Automotive Data Services bundle, provide the benefits of traditional data services, as well as enhanced peace of mind and detailed vehicle information for consumers.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Link what will be the next step in the evolution of in-vehicle telematics.
Link: Telematics will see an expansion of the value chain as more and more companies leverage the benefits of a connected vehicle. Adding the vehicle as another connected device provides important location information that can trigger a sequence of events; for example, as you return home from the office, alarms, thermostats, lights and various media can be controlled, seamlessly timed with your expected arrival.
AI: What is Verizon’s role in the development of future telematics technologies?
Link: Verizon is proactive in promoting innovation both internally and externally. Our two innovation centers inspire, enable, and showcase new innovations that tap into the power of Verizon’s technology, including connected car solutions. Our advanced strategy group is active in the development and promotion of telematics technologies, including the creation of thought leadership around data analytics.
AI: How do you see the future of new telematics apps – will remote uploading of apps be the norm?
Link: Like most mobile devices today, consumers have grown to expect remote uploading and updating of applications. Remote update technology has proven both safe and reliable and it’s expected with most mobile devices today. Verizon Telematics was a pioneer in implementing this technology in the vehicle and introduced the capability in 2012. We believe it will become common in most cars in the future. Gen Y buyers in particular will come to expect remote updates in their vehicle as opposed to being inconvenienced with a drive to the dealership.
AI: How has the past year been for Verizon post the Hughes Telematics acquisition?
Link: A key driver behind the acquisition of Hughes Telematics was the opportunity to increase Verizon’s assets across the telematics value chain. With the combined entities, we can now deliver a broader set of solutions, assets, and expertise, offering us the opportunity to take an idea to implementation much faster.
AI: What are some of the areas where Verizon sees itself as a premier source in the field of automotive-related telematics?
Link: We have the unique advantage of having a significant number of experienced professionals from network management, telematics platform, security and the cloud all under one roof. Having these professionals together to solve real-world challenges gives OEMs a comprehensive telematics source.
AI: How do you see direct vehicle to vehicle communication evolving?
Link: Vehicle to vehicle technology offers significant safety features to drivers with a clear objective of making the roads safer. Recent research in Ann Arbor, MI and other programs around the world have demonstrated that V2V works. Core to V2V is the data communications between vehicles and infrastructure for the purpose of crash-avoidance. The industry should maintain clear focus on this objective and not get distracted with the other potential applications that could emerge from such communications. Recent progress from this research and government announcements by the DOT and NTSA have shown tremendous progress, suggesting that the future for V2V is very near.
AI: Tell us about your vision of the future of the connected car.
Link: Today’s connected car offers the driver great opportunities to stay connected while remaining safe through the advanced safety features offered with telematics. The future of the connected car will extend beyond the benefits to the driver and include advantages for broader society. The future connected car will proactively assist with traffic management, emissions management, city planning and other initiatives beyond the vehicle. We will see more benefits of the connected car including V2V and connectivity to the Internet of Things, while leveraging the wisdom that will emerge from the data that is created through such connectivity.