I would love to see automobile manufacturers join mobile computing device manufacturers in producing vehicles that support standardized off-the-shelf electronic devices that integrate seamlessly with the vehicle’s console, electrical system, controls, and accessory mounts. We should be able to incorporate our personal tablets, music players, and mobile devices for all of the following functions.
- hands-free telephone calls
- maps and turn-by-turn navigation
- traffic, accident, and road condition warnings
- video entertainment for passengers
- fuel economy monitoring and optimization
- driving behavior and safety monitoring
- location tracking and history
- vehicle telemetry recording (“black box”)
- external camera monitoring
- vehicle maintenance tracking – schedule for oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid changes
Replacing proprietary electronics with commercial off-the-shelf components would provide the following advantages.
- User serviceability (hardware repair and replacement)
- Electronic hardware upgrades can keep pace with rapid advances in technology innovation
- Multi-sourcing for electronics hardware will lower costs through competition, standardization, and commoditization
- Software applications can be installed and upgraded at will
- It opens up a vast market for applications that work in conjunction with the vehicle and its subsystems
- The cost of development is externalized from the vehicle manufacturer, allowing it to take advantage of the economies of scale associated with the computing and consumer electronics industry
- And most importantly, consumers will love it. A vehicle with this capability will be of enormous appeal to the market. This would be such a revolutionary improvement that any manufacturer without this capability will be at an immediate and insurmountable disadvantage in terms of desirability.
Limitless possibilities open up, when the automobile’s subsystems are integrated with mobile computing devices that have high speed network connectivity (e.g., HSPA, LTE) and user installed software applications. I am sure that developers would invent a huge range of applications to take advantage of a platform that is such an important element of people’s lives. In many occupations, mobile computing is done while parked in a vehicle. Such a platform could greatly improve the ergonomics for this mobile work force. With such a platform, I bet it would not take long, before an application appears to enable vehicles in close proximity to collaborate to assist drivers in avoiding accidents. A platform with applications such as this would no doubt open up a market for integrating additional components, such as external cameras, sensors, and signaling mechanisms. The possibilities are endless.