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Software & Web Development

Connected Cars - The Winding Trail to the Future

The consumer in the present world is bombarded by the unlimited potential of connected technologies. Technology has become extremely intimate to consumers, so that a few hours of limited mobile connectivity is likened to being stranded on a remote island. The car, for most drivers, is a “remote island” with little or no access to social media or other applications that technology has unraveled over the past decade. The irony is that the automotive industry is faced with similar challenges to those that the consumer electronics industry went through during the past decade. Some questions that the OEMs have been grappling to address are:

-  Will a common software platform evolve with adoption across OEMs to enable the scale required for an ecosystem of app developers?

-  Will software gain greater prominence over the actual hardware?

-  How to ensure that consumers are “truly connected” while addressing important safety concerns?

-  How to build a robust business model around value-added services to consumer?

The contribution of electronics and software to the total value of the car has been on the rise. It is predicted that automotive infotainment systems will constitute 40% of the total value of a car by 2025, up from 20%. While the complexity of these systems is continuously increasing, the automotive industry doesn’t have the flexibility of adopting an agile mindset of launching beta versions and continuously tweaking it based on real-time consumer feedback. The stringent quality norms to be followed essentially increases the launch cycle to anywhere between 3 and 5 years, hence making it almost impossible to make a long-term prediction of the technology trends to come. Considering these insurmountable challenges, there are a few key steps that the industry could adopt to ensure that the right solutions evolve at the earliest.

Synergize on diverse capabilities – The connected car is a complex value chain and it would require the concerted efforts of multiple players to build a sustainable solution. A common software platform across OEMs could ensure an ecosystem that would churn out multiple applications to support the industry and also meet the time-to-market requirements. Consolidation and aggregation is the key to build scale.

User experience as the core of product evolution – This is one space wherein the lessons from the CE industry will certainly not apply. The key here is to build a multi-modal user experience incorporating multiple input options such as touch, gestures, voice, eyeball tracking and so on. Only an intuitive user experience can put to rest safety concerns and ensure that user has unlimited access to content.

Build for the future – OEMs are using smartphone connectivity as a quick fix for the concerns on technological obsolescence. The right solution would be to build a scalable solution that can be continuously upgraded throughout the vehicle lifecycle.

Given the above scenario, I believe there is ample scope for improving the efficiency levels of the processes involved in developing connected cars and deliver customer delight.

 

By Raman Vaidyanathan, VP, Embedded Systems Practice, Integrated Engineering Solutions, Tech Mahindra

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Raman Vaidyanathan

VP, Embedded Systems Practice, Integrated Engineering Solutions

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