News Column

Stay connected and safe on the roads

July 6, 2014

Almost 15 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that a device with the capabilities of a smartphone could exist.

Imagine a world in which your car talks to you. Where you save time getting to that important meeting because your car tells you where to park, and where you never have to worry about communication should you be involved in an accident, because your car will do it all for you. In this world, your car communicates with you and with the world around you, conveying vital information that will not only enhance your driving experience, but that will bring more convenience, safety and connectivity into your life. This is where the Networked Society, in which everything that can benefit from being connected will be connected, will take us: a brave new world where our cars are as much an integrated part of our communications with the world as our smartphones are.

Almost 15 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that a device with the capabilities of a smartphone could exist. Today, it is impossible to imagine our world without at least one connected device playing a significant role in the way that we access our world on a daily, even hourly basis. Inventions such as the smartphone have inspired an evolution in the way that we interact with our world, which, through continuous innovation, is now being extended into other aspects of our lives more specifically, into our vehicles.

Connected vehicles represent the next evolutionary stage of our transportation. The automotive industry is already embracing this trend, in which the virtual fog that vehicles currently exist in is lifted, allowing vehicles to take advantage of the cloud to connect to other vehicles, transport-related service providers, transportation authorities and more.

Empowered by LTE mobile communications technology, connected vehicles will allow drivers and passengers, as well as automotive manufacturers, partners and developers to enhance the in-vehicle experience in numerous ways.

The benefits to drivers, and other vehicle users, will be palpable in the way that their regular commuting activities are enriched. They will be able to access applications that provide essential car information, navigation advice and entertainment, either from a smart device, or via a screen integrated into the car's design. The scope that this offers is near limitless; in practical terms, cars will connect with manufacturers to deliver remote diagnostics and receive software updates, as well as automatically scheduling services and reporting maintenance issues. By connecting to the cloud, drivers will be able to be alerted to and pay road tax and congestion fees through their vehicle. It will also open up the possibility for pay as you drive insurance schemes, which will be more cost-effective as drivers will only be charged for the hours they spend on the road.

From a lighter perspective, drivers and passengers will have access to in-car entertainment through the cloud, such as internet radio stations, cloud-based personal music collections and more. Passengers will have access to movies and other entertainment. Vehicle owners will be able to manage their personal information and accounts from within their car, and there is great potential for companies to purchase in-car advertising opportunities, or for the car's system to access information about local points of interest.

Connected vehicles offer benefits to more than just the driver. They allow for improved efficiency, both in terms of eco-driving by helping to conserve fuel and emissions, and in terms of easing congestion. A connected vehicle allows better route planning, with constant alerts on potential road obstructions accompanied by suggested alternative travel itineraries. This will consequently allow drivers to make informed decisions on every outing, thereby helping to divert traffic away from trouble spots to ease tailbacks and excessive delays.

One of the most exciting, and most practical purposes of the connected vehicle, though, is the safety aspect that the concept delivers. Connected vehicles have the potential to curb hazardous driving by a considerable amount intelligent speed adaptors and inhibitors and mechanisms to prevent driving under influence are just two applications that can have a significantly positive effect on driving standards. Connected vehicles will be able to convey traffic hazard warnings to give drivers ample warning before they reach obstacles, reducing the risk of collisions.

Should a connected vehicle be involved in an incident, it will have the ability to connect with emergency services and the capacity to determine the severity of an incident, in order to recognise which services are required. This electronic safety system, called eCall, will inform emergency services in the instance of a serious accident, even if the driver is unconscious, transmitting location data to ensure rescue workers arrive at the site without delay. Ericsson is part of a pilot project in Europe that is testing this solution in several countries.

Whichever way you look at it, the possibilities and potential of connected vehicles is near endless. They improve customer experience, monetize assets, and offer expansion into new value chains for internet providers, automotive manufacturers, and advertisers, and boost convenience across all levels. This is what we at Ericsson call the Networked Society era.

The writer is the president of Ericsson Gulf Council Countries. View expressed by her are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)

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