There is little doubt the news of GM planning to wire certain model-year 2014 cars with 4G LTE is a big deal. But my idea of a big deal might be different than that of the average person.
While I am sure the heavy majority of the consuming population will be focused on the wow-factor that comes with the speed of the 4G LTE network for things like streaming video, games, and other content, I think the focus should be on the ‘info’ half of infotainment instead. The speed at which 4G LTE could stream info to the driver about things like traffic jams, road closures, impending accidents, and such should be grabbing the headlines around this announcement.
In case you didn’t read the news about one California legislator looking to put the brakes on all in-vehicle communication, Peggy’s blog sums it and the possible ramifications on the auto market quite nicely. So I think when the national media starts circulating this news about 4G LTE creating this “smartphone on wheels” it might add undue fuel to the fire that the automakers aren’t paying heed to the safety of the driver with in-vehicle technology.
If you look into the release GM talks up that over time it will focus on applications that allow the vehicles to interact directly with their environment to enhance safety, efficiency, and convenience, for drivers and passengers. Some exciting things to look forward to include:
-Realtime traffic and navigation updates
-The idea of vehicle-to-vehicle communication actually coming together
-The thought that your vehicle might actually have the capabilities to communicate with the environment around them
-Applications that can take accurate measurements of traffic or weather conditions in order to better engage the safety components of the vehicle
It is my opinion that GM has indeed thought this through. It is the very reason it keeps hinting at plans to work with AT&T on a broad ecosystem of tech players in order to better enhance the driving experience. In fact, you got a taste of collaborative efforts in CES back in January when GM and AT&T worked together on a Connected Car Challenge as part of its AT&T Hackathon. It shows the power of opening up APIs in order to bring some powerful ideas to life.
The winner of that challenge created something called “QuickTrip” that allows drivers to build a list of errands from their phones and then sync with the car. Not the best example of safety in the vehicle, although the app does promote an eye-on-the-road message by displaying cues on the windshield and not the head unit.
Still, it might have been best to play up apps that leverage traffic data or weather data, for example, in order to leverage in-vehicle safety systems. That is simply one man’s opinion.
Still, I think GM has a chance to shift the focus on the connected car arena away from all the things that are making people think apps in the car are dangerous. People get the idea that LTE means fast. Now it’s just a matter of tying “response” and “safety” to that message.