When you walk into an auto dealer’s showroom in 2017 you will have get use to hearing several new terms and references as applied to your car audio. Among the new terms will be the new word audiotainment. Audiotainment focuses on making media available, discoverable, and easy to use in vehicles in ways that are consistent with what consumers are doing in other areas of their lives. When you purchase a new car in the fall of 2017, the old model of radio with two knobs, six or twelve presets and a CD player is about to be a relic of the past – replaced by an explosion of audio sources, channels and options. Already some auto dealers are hiring tech-savvy high school seniors (@$11 or $12/hr) to work as apprentices to their sales persons – just to explain the dashboard to buyers. The new dashboard will perform most of the tasks that can be done on a smart phone.
The device will allow for personalize interactions with the driver. This may include geo-targeting, instantaneous driver response and user-control time-shifting of content. The technology will enable location-based advertising, on-demand traffic and weather, on-demand digital streaming, provide opportunities for song rating, tagging and on-spot voting in addition to immediate response to coupon offering.
The new technology (via WIFI, 4G or LTE) will also enable broadcasters to leverage data from driver interaction with social and digital media while on the move. Thus completely transforming the way radio sales people sell drive-time audience to advertisers. In essence, what we have is a fully connected dashboard computer that transforms new cars into a mobile commercial and content platform. This essentially gives the potential advertisers (or underwriters – in the case of public media) access to driving and listening data, while simultaneously providing insurance companies with access to motor vehicle data such as instantaneous speed. This will certainly impact the traditional advertising model which is currently based mostly on ratings and reach data – providing options for direct-to-consumer offerings.
Our introduction to this technology dates back as far as 2007 when Ford Motors introduced SYNC in some of their high-end vehicles. This technology allowed the driver to use voice control for telephone calls and music access. It also introduced us to the SYNC AppLink. Today this technology has been integrated with that of smart-phones which together forms the backbone for Connected Vehicle.
AppLink include applications (apps) that provide AAA member services, expenses report tracking and the ability to search for local entertainment. When SYNC is integrated with Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto, drivers have access to maps, messaging, phone, music, smart option to lock/unlocked doors and the ability to check fuel level form both dashboard and smart devices.
Ford’s latest version of SYNC is Sync 3 and they expect it to be integrated with either CarPlay or Android Auto in most of their 2017 auto models – starting with the Ford Escape. They project that 43 million vehicles will be equipped with this technology by 2020.
In addition to the technologies described above, recently an electronic firm – Nav Tool, based in New York announced that they have developed an interface that enable Smartphone mirroring for older automobiles with navigation screen. Go to navetool.com for details.
The major players in this new arena (developers of the operating system) are the same companies that created the platforms for our cell phones – Google (android auto systems) and Apple (CarPlay). Linux provides the operating system for the new Tesla Model S – an electric car and are in negations to do the same for some European models. This has caused some level of discomfort among some radio stations owners and radio networks operators, because in addition to owning the technology, Google and Apple are also expanding their offerings in the content business. However, others (myself included) believe irrespective of who owns the platforms, channels or operating system, consumers will have more choices and they have always chosen the content that they can use and that are most relevant to their day-to-lives.
In all of history there has always been trepidation regarding introduction of new technology. The Connected Vehicle is just the latest – so let’s bring on the technology, make it easy to use and may the best content win.