The Connected Car–part III

weBoost | October 15, 2013

Last week for “Wireless Wednesday” we started looking at the connected car and how it’s changing/emerging with today’s technological advances. We looked at the industry as a whole, and especially focused on safety and security. We also looked at one of the most obvious use cases for connected cars, navigation and location services. Today we’re going to be looking into what I think is a pretty sweet aspect of the connected car, entertainment!

Check out the excerpt from the @FierceWireless article pasted below–

With LTE connectivity built in, cars can become a mobile broadband hotspot device, allowing passengers’ tablets and smartphones to feed off its high-speed connectivity, much as they do in the home. The driver will be free to keep their eyes on the road while passengers and those in the back seat can either use their tablets and smartphones for entertainment or take advantage of built-in screens within the car.

MirrorLink mirrors a smartphone screen on a car’s console.

How that service gets billed is likely going to be a matter of debate among car maker and their carrier partners. Chris Penrose, senior vice president of AT&T’s emerging devices unit, said billing can be split so that a car company such as GM will be billed for over-the-air updates it makes to in-car software but a customer might be billed for using a mobile hotspot service in the car. He declined to specify pricing or how AT&T would proceed on the topic, but noted that a car subscription could potentially be added to AT&T’s Mobile Share shared data plans, or such a service could be billed on a monthly, annual or multi-year basis. Alternatively, customers could turn on the hotspot functionality for just a day or for a few days, depending on their trip.

Several sources said one way in-car entertainment will likely be enabled is through MirrorLink, a standard being developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium, a global group of handset and car makers. MirrorLink is a screen replication technology that mirrors what would be showing on the smartphone display on a car’s infotainment system. “We want to provide a solution which allows users to utilize their smartphones while they are in the car and while they are driving,” said Jörg Brakensiek, chair of the technical working group at the CCC. He noted that apps developed for the MirrorLink standard must meet safety guidelines so that they do not distract the driver. Brakensiek said “entertainment is easy” in terms of enablement via MirrorLink since so much entertainment content resides on consumers’ devices already.

However, the combination of hotspot technology and the ability to beam streaming content onto screens within cars means that streaming video is likely going to be a key entertainment avenue. “The only application that is going to generate vast amounts of data traffic is video and hopefully it’s not the driver that’s consuming [it],” Machina Research analyst Matt Hatton said.

While video could be the killer in-car entertainment app for passengers, something that both passengers and drivers can enjoy will likely continue to be streaming radio services. Some car makers, such as GM, have taken take the approach of allowing streaming radio apps like Slacker to be built into the in-car console platform. Others, such as Ford, let customers bring their devices into the car to sync their existing services to the vehicle. In February, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) extended its Cloud Player music streaming service to Ford vehicles equipped with the automaker’s voice-activated Sync AppLink technology. The technology supports hands-free, Bluetooth-enabled access to voice calling and digital music services like Pandora, Stitcher and iHeartRadio, as well as on-demand diagnostic and maintenance information.

What do you think of this article? Is the connected car something you are interested in? Let us know in the comments section below, or on Twitter/Facebook.
Next time we’ll look at diagnostics in the connected car, so make sure to check back then. To read the rest of this article, click here.