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Summary:

When you think about a “connected car,” you probably think of fancy car stereos that can play tunes from your smartphone. But the connected car is evolving into something much more complex. Here’s what coming down the road.

future car cloud
photo: Shutterstock

Smartphone

The smartphone will play a key role in the next-generation connected car. In many cases, it will supply wireless internet connectivity to the dashboard, which will be the central nervous system for the car’s entertainment options. But several automakers want the driver’s phone to be much more than that: They want it to serve as the brains of the entire connected car. That means it would host the various apps that give the car added functionality, while the car itself would simply become the interface for those apps. That would allow carmakers to add new features more frequently because more advanced phones come out all the time. By making the smartphone the hub of the connected car, automakers will cede some control, but they may have no choice.

Voice Control

Some cars already have limited voice-command capabilities — we can play songs, for example, and initiate phone calls. But in the future, they will be able to use cloud-based natural-language understanding to interpret increasingly complex requests. Not only will we be able to dictate emails and text messages while driving, eventually voice-driven car assistants will merge with personal assistants in the phone and home. When that happens, our cars will be able to communicate with our TVs, say, or our security systems.

Infotainment

The apps that have appeared in the dash so far are more entertainment focused, like Pandora and Amazon Cloud Player, but soon we’ll see the same wide array of apps in cars that we’re used to seeing on our smartphones and tablets. Automakers will need to set restrictions on app developers — for safety reasons. But with new hands-free interfaces we’ll be able to reserve parking, get recommendations to nearby restaurants, and share our locations with family, friends and co-workers — all with a simple voice command.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

The auto industry and regulators are developing the standards for wireless networking that, simply put, will allow cars to talk to one another. They’ll be able to communicate whether they’re accelerating, braking or turning — even their eventual destinations. The more cars know what their peers are doing the more they can coordinate. Ultimately, we’ll get safer cars that can sense traffic and highway conditions far better than any single driver.

Connected Powertrain

Though automakers will be very careful how much of the engine, transmission and other sensitive components in the powertrain they expose to the world, eventually apps will be able to access vehicle performance and diagnostic information. Apps will be able to monitor our cars’ health, and tell us when they’re driven and who’s driving them. We’ll be able to ship our cars’ drive data to our mechanics and to our insurers so they can better diagnose problems and offer us better insurance premiums.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communications

As cars start linking to each other, they can create massive moving mesh networks that in turn link to fixed nodes on the highway. What you get is a “hive mind”, where massive groups of vehicles can coordinate their activities on the highway, not just preventing accidents but controlling the flow of traffic through a centralized intelligence. It sounds far-fetched, but with the number of vehicles on the road growing into the multiple billions, people may actually have to give up control if they expect to actually get anywhere.

Editor’s Note: We chose the Chevy Spark as the template for our graphic because it’s representative of the type of relatively affordable car that we think will be the biggest beneficiaries of connected car technologies. That’s because the target market for cars  at that price point are particularly receptive to these kinds of new features and, as a group, is big enough to help make large-scale adoption more likely. The choice of the Spark for this graphic does not in any way constitute of an endorsement of that car.

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  1. In this Technology Boom nothing is impossible to do.. Few Days back Connected Televisions and connected Cameras. Now Its Vehicles Turn to connect to the Technology.. anyway infographic pics are really awesome and informatic.

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  2. Why not make the rear windows interactive touchscreen? That’s what WOO aims to do http://en.www.netexplo.org/laureat/woo-windows-of-opportunity

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  3. Stephen McCurry Thursday, February 7, 2013

    The implications for connected cat technology are far reaching. The ability to understand driving behavior means that it is possible to understand exactly what a vehicle has endured during its lifetime. Therefore bringing accuracy and transparency to pricing in the 2nd hand vehicle market. Likewise, for the driver they can have a driving passport which indicates what type of driver they are based on actual driving experience. The driving passport can be used to set insurance premiums or hire car rental prices based on how you are likely to treat the vehicle.

    Car sharing will come of age because the technology to locate and open the vehicle remotely will be built into every vehicle. The idea of the car as a utility becomes a reality.

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  4. Wonderful infographic. We have a University Transportation Center( UTC) at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that works with researchers to support projects with connected vehicles(CVI). To learn more about CVI-UTC research visit their website:http://www.connectedvehicleinfrastructure-utc.org/

    Thanks,
    Cecilia Elpi
    Events/External Relations Coordinator; Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

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  5. Wow really looks nice. The Dashboard of a car seems to be a great idea. Through this you can able get maximum of information regarding a car and similarly for other vehicle. It is really good concept for the next generation of cars. Thank full to GigaOm to make this happen. Its an innovative thought. So congratulation for it.

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