Every once in a while, different technology revolutions change the mindset of how humans interact with computers. The user interface (UI) is the bridge between us and those amazing machines that influence and affect the day-to-day life of just about every single human on earth.
In 5 years just about every car model will be equipped with a screen that will seamlessly integrate with your smartphone. It will be the extension of your preferred mobile device, but this time in a new environment.
What does that new environment have to offer? It might bring up thoughts of things like “Siri, drive me home”… or telling your Google device “Ok Google, I’m hearing something weird when I press the accelerator… is something wrong?” We’re beyond excited about the possibilities. The technologies Apple, Google and Microsoft are unleashing this year are setting the stage for the next great tech battleground.
Flashback to the capabilities of cell phone devices 6 years ago, and think about how those capabilities have evolved since. That’s due to a war between tech companies and their hunger for a place in the smartphone market revolution. The car technology market is a similar opportunity. But the fight won’t be an easy one as the car manufacturers are quickly finding out.
Here’s the problem:
How do you make the experience better than just taking phone technology and strapping it to your car? How do you make it both easier and more valuable to use this technology in your car instead just using the smartphone you already have? That’s what companies are working on right now. You’re going to find a lot of stuff that isn’t all that useful, and it’s going to take some experimenting before car manufacturers get it right.
Microsoft has started to generate some buzz with the “Windows in The Car” project, a renamed version of their old “Windows Embedded Automotive” that dates back to 1998. “Apple CarPlay” will be available this year in some select car models beside a plug and play unit from Alpine, and Google created an open initiative called “Open Automotive Alliance.”
Right now is the perfect moment to integrate cars into the cloud, because we’re in an era of porting our entire lives to it. We are now interacting with people through digital spaces more than ever before, getting only the information we want to receive, and getting instant private data from centralized sources: calendars, pictures, contacts, and more. That’s what Microsoft, Apple, and Google see right now… “the moment.”
So, what can you expect from these new technologies in the next year?
Zemoga jumped at the chance to see all this new tech in person at the New York International Auto Show. We learned that almost every manufacturer has a plan for connected technology in their vehicles, and that there will be competitors other than Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Apple’s CarPlay device understands most of the relevant data you have in your iPhone: It will get your contacts’ info, will suggest possible destinations, will get your music ready to listen to through your car controls, and will even allow you to get your iMessages right on the screen. However, you won’t ever have to look at the screen to use any of these features.
In a nutshell, CarPlay will extract relevant data from your iPhone without the need to even look at it. Instead, you will interact with Siri voice commands, your car panel touch screen, or even with the standard car knobs.
Lexus has an app suite called “Enform” available on all its 2014 models. It equips your car with Yelp, Facebook, Pandora, OpenTable, and the possibility for more third party apps in the future. You can control it either with your voice or with a modified mouse in the console. Controlling Enform is limited to voice commands while driving.
Where will the future of digital media take us?
So what does this new battlefield represent for us at Zemoga, and for the future of digital media? We foresee an era where the digital information is dictated by screens, not by devices. We continue thinking about providing solutions that can be seamlessly ported to a desktop experience, a tablet, a smartphone, a car, or even a fridge or home sensor bundle.
The technologies and the tools are the same: HTML5, Java SDK, Objective C, and we need to be prepared to handle an ecosystem where the people bring the information to the cloud, and that information is disseminated across each screen, enhanced by the environment where the screen live, and that’s what we call… a “Multi-Screen world”.
What connectivity features would your dream car have?