SmartPhones and SmartCars. One in Every Garage Soon!

The more time we spend in our cars, the more we’re looking for something to do. Forget about that European concept that when in a car, one should drive… As we sit on the freeway, in stop and go traffic, we eat, drink, text, and talk on our mobile phones. Even though most of that stuff is now illegal, we can’t help it. If nobody can actually see us (except our family and peers), then nobody will know we’re doing it.

Juniper Research has apparently been peeking into your car, SUV, CUV, SAV, and truck. According to the wireless research firm (Hampshire, United Kingdom), nearly every vehicle on the road sold by 2016 will have fairly in-depth smart phone integration. The market for sales of smartphone/vehicle products will grow to more than $14 billion and create 92 million vehicles with Internet connectivity, not to mention interactive connectivity for mapping, music, video, and more. Of course, driving onto the freeway going the wrong way will rapidly eliminate those functions, not to mention the driver.

Of course, we’re working to keep our eye on the prize, not to mention traffic. Juniper waves the stars and stripes relative to leadership in this arena. U.S. companies are leading in areas involving telematics technology. Ford is using the Sync system (Microsoft), General Motors has OnStar, and is adding For My Vehicle (FMV) for non-GM vehicles. QNX is a leading third party supplier working with multiple vehicle manufacturers, including BMW. Even Apple is creating a stronger presence in specific vehicle interactivity, with Mercedes, BMW, VW, Porsche and others on board already. Interaction between proprietary navigation systems and the iPhone is widespread, and Android developers are nipping at Apple’s heels with their own solutions.

Seriously, there is a lot of good in this evolution. The ability to get directions, notify emergency services of an accident or medical emergency, access security at your home or business, and other life-management actions will cut into the time lost while driving. And, as these technologies advance, don’t expect to see them limited to high-end models of vehicles – as the cost of production declines, even entry-level models will get some of these technologies.

A good example is GM, which is introducing GogoLink in the Chevy 2013 Spark and Sonic models. GogoLink moves the processing component out of the vehicle and puts it back in the smartphone. The vehicle’s seven-inch display will mirror the screen of your iPhone or Android devices, allowing you to utilize many of the features of your phone. Users will connect via USB or BlueTooth.

While solutions like GogoLink sound cool, they also raise the problematic issue of compatibility between vehicles. One of the most pressing issues is standardization. A consortium of parts suppliers and consumer electronics companies are working together to create a unified protocol called MirrorLink for connecting vehicles and smart-devices. Even though most vehicles have blue tooth options, nearly every manufacturer has their own internally developed, proprietary solution. That’s as messy as the San Diego Fwy 18 hours a day, 365 days a year. At least while you’re sitting in that traffic, you can take care of business, and then spend more time having fun when you get home.

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