5 min May 28, 2015 in

The Role of Smart, Connected Products In Cars

The emergence of smart, connected products is going to revolutionize the car industry forever. They’re introducing far greater safety and reliability, enhancing comfort, transitioning from fuel to electricity and solving any time constraints-related issues.

At the same time, they’re completely disrupting research and development, manufacturing processes, safety measures and marketing. In order to move forward, significant alterations and accommodations need to come into play.

connected productsPhoto Credits: MaRS Discovery District’s Flickr

Smart Connected Products Defined

There’s 3 parts to smart connected products:

  • Physical components –  The car’s mechanical and electrical parts such as the engine block, battery and tires.
  • Smart components – This includes controls, sensors, microprocessors, data storage, software systems and an embedded operating system.  Some examples are the engine control unit, the anti-lock brake system, automated wipers (that have rain sensors) and any touch screens within the car.
  • Connectivity components – These consist of ports, antennae and protocols for wired or wireless connection to the product. There’s 3 methods of connectivity. One-to-one where a product connects to the user, manufacturer or another product. One-to-many where a primary system connects to other products at the same time. Then there’s many-to-many where multiple products connect to many other types of products.

Altering Industry Roles

Smart connected products are literally altering the structure of the auto industry. Car companies are going to have to quickly adapt and accommodate the new boundaries these products are bringing with them. Their presence calls for vast reshaping and establishment of new industries.

These challenges encompass how venture opportunities and partnerships are formed and defined, how data will be obtained and utilized and how marketing strategies are going to present value and capture consumer interest. The bottom line is that company roles and industry boundaries are going to expand into a myriad of uncharted territories that skews roles, titles and occupations.

What type of information can connected products gather and how they can help the driver

The connectivity component of connected products has two main purposes. First of all, these products constantly exchange information with the environment. Second, some features of these products allow them to exist in the product cloud.

It is not enough to just have a connected product and build the technology behind it. The car also needs to be able to support a communication network.

These are the features of connected products: they can monitor, control, optimize and provide autonomy. Let’s dissect them, and see how they can actually change the driving experience:

  • Monitoring. Thanks to the sensors that are attached to a connected car, the connected product itself is able to gather information about the external environment. Let me give you an example. These sensors can pick up all sorts of information, like what the distance between you and the car in front of you is, identifying various stop signs, whether there are any pedestrians or cyclists coming towards you. You can even receive notifications and alerts from the product. The monitoring feature is great for drivers, especially if their attention span is reduced in certain situations.
  • Controlling. This feature means that your car can be controlled from a distance if it has a connected product built in. Alternatively, you can set certain functions to kick in when a specific thing happens. For example, you can use your voice to turn on the radio or play music from your phone, lock the doors after you start the engine and countless other things you can think of. In the summer time, if your car is in the sun, you can program it to start the air conditioning. This way, when you’re ready to leave, the temperature inside it is going to be perfect.
  • Optimization. Connected products don’t only gather information about the surrounding environment, but they also analyze the data they receive and use it to optimize your experience. For instance, your car will be able to give you directions on how to drive in order to reduce fuel consumption or how not to use the brakes as much. Don’t you just hate it when your car breaks down all of a sudden for no apparent reason? With a connected product, this will be a thing of the past. The system will notify you what upcoming revisions you need to make long before your car will break down.
  • Autonomy. Autonomy is a combination of the three features I mentioned above: monitoring, controlling and optimization. Because of that, connected products prove to be incredibly valuable. Not only are they able to detect the environment, but they can also adapt to it. Any drivers will find themselves, at least once in their lifetime, in a dangerous situation while driving. It can be the fault of another driver, it can be because they weren’t paying attention or didn’t see what was coming. If there’s a person or a car that’s approaching a driver’s vehicle and he’s not able to brake in time, the car will do it for him in order to avoid an accident.

Smart connected products have actually challenged the auto industry, since nobody would have thought they would be so significant. With determination and continued technological advancements, automakers will surely rise to the occasion and not only accommodate the growing needs of the industry, but likely surpass them as well.

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