How connected cars could change your life on the road in the next three years
Worldwide sales of connected cars are projected to grow from fewer than 7 million units in 2015 to almost 61 million in 2020, generating $141 billion revenue for the auto industry and giving commuters new ways to make rush hour more relaxing or productive.
Video will play a significant role in this change, providing new in-car entertainment services, enhancing road safety by allowing drivers to "see through" the vehicles around them, and making cars more secure by thwarting burglars, vandals and car thieves.
Video will provide entertainment
The idea of using your car as a cinema on wheels isn't new. Uber and AT&T began streaming live football games to headrest-mounted tablets in 2015. But the technology is advancing quickly. For example, Volvo's Concept 26 car (named, Volvo says, for the 26 minutes the average commuter loses sitting in traffic each day), ensures uninterrupted video streaming by predicting a driver's planned route and searching for "not-spots" – areas where wireless connectivity drops out – then downloading video content ahead of time to ensure uninterrupted reception. Volvo predicts that soon, drivers may actually choose longer routes to their destinations, so they'll have more time to finish watching a program.
Video will make driving safer
Video will also make cars safer by helping drivers see more of the things around them. Nearly 3,300 people die each day in vehicular accidents, many caused by driver error, fatigue or intoxication. Although truly autonomous (i.e., driverless) cars are still a few years off, they could reduce traffic fatalities by as much as 90% by mid-century.
Soon, video cameras may eliminate blind spots entirely by effectively letting drivers see through other cars. These "see-through services" will show you what the driver in the car directly ahead of you is seeing. This is done by taking the video shot from the lead car and beaming it back to the one directly behind, whose driver can see it on a pair of Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. While the glasses already exist, real-time transmission of video from one car to another will require serious network connectivity. See-through services aren't available yet, but they will be soon.
Video will enhance security
Break-ins and vandalism often happen while cars are parked on the street, and more than one in five car accidents takes place in a parking lot. As a result, many cars now have video security cameras. The Cadillac CT6, for example, has four surveillance cameras hidden in its front grille, outside rear-view mirrors, and the lid of its trunk. Video footage can be stored on a secure digital card inside the car or beamed up to the cloud. Video security for cars will be a big business, and companies such as LyfeLens and ThroughTek are already providing solutions.
Future video technologies will use biometric scanning as well. Several carmakers are researching facial recognition systems that notify an owner if her car is started by an unknown person – or by someone for whom the owner may want to modify a car's performance. For example, one day you may be able to lower your car's top speed if your excitable teenage son or daughter gets behind the wheel.
Network capacity will be the key to making all this technology work . Strong broadband networks will be needed to provide the bandwidth and support the billions of connections that power tomorrow's connected cars.
As our cars become our next mobile smart devices, video will help turn yesterday's dreary commute into time that can be used to work or relax, while making the ride safer and more secure.