IT Savvy Car



Guest writer, Lily, makes a confession about something that most of us are guilty of.

The Consumer Reports National Research Centre in the US conducted a national survey in 2012, and found that almost half of the drivers, between ages of 16 to 21, used their mobile phones while driving; close to 30% of the respondents said they texted while driving, more than 70% of them witnessed texting while driving and about 30% saw their peers actively using apps, social media or email with only one hand on wheel!

Another report published by, with a survey population of 14 160 drivers across 24 countries, found that 22% of the population agreed that they have been distracted by their mobile devices while driving. Saudi Arabia leads in mobile activities while driving with 43% of its drivers committing the offence, while US ranks number 6 with 27% of its drivers doing the same. Great Britain is the gathering place for well behaved boys and girls, as it has the lowest ranking with only 8%.

Put your hand on your heart and ask yourself sincerely, while no one was looking at you, were you part of the statistics? I hope no policeman is reading this article while I do my confession here. I have been warning myself and tried to resist the temptation, yet many times my fingers just refuse to obey me. They crawl to my handbag, dig around until they land on my smartphone and off it goes – sliding, pressing and crawling all over the keypad! I have never been a sportswoman but I am amazed at my fingers’ agility once they land on a smartphone! The aftereffect is slight guilt and telling myself not to do it anymore.

I am way beyond 21 years old; the Consumer Reports National Research Centre would have excluded me from their survey. If the survey had not been ‘age-prejudiced’, I believe the figure would have been much more alarming because there are many ‘older adults with ever young hearts’, like me, driving on the roads!

30 years ago, we only had the telephone when the narrow band internet became available. We began to use more frequently the term ‘communication’, and then came broadband technology making popular the term ‘telecommunication’; after which, came ‘multimedia communication’ and so on, with more terms to describe the integration of technology. Now, whenever I pick up a tablet of any size, I will ask, “Can I make calls with this? What about sending emails from Microsoft Outlook from this device? What types of social media apps are available?” The list will go on and on. One device can replace my telephone, contact book, diary, calendar and so many other things (but ladies’ handbags never get lighter, for some reason. That would be a totally different topic for discussion).

‘Marketing convergence’ is a common phrase in today’s marketing world due to the variety of media, technologies and interactive tools. Businesses need an integrated solution to glue the diversified media together in order to generate clear, integrated and consistent messages. I can foresee that industry convergence is also happening across different types of industry, including the automotive industry. In fact, it is happening now without us knowing it. A very obvious example is the mini television and built-in GPS in new cars! More and more features are being added to cars, such as the convenience of making calls, sending text messages and email with voice command, conference call function and so on. Imagine, you can synchronise your data to your cloud service while you’re in your car, driving! Currently, some of these features are available in the aftermarket auto industry; in the future, I believe these connectivity features will be incorporated right from the point of manufacture.

When a product enters the maturity stage, it is a challenge for the product owner to generate much revenue due to the competition. They will need to re-invent. Have you ever heard of industry players in the information technology and mobile device industries mention that there is not much profit in selling hardware, but the high margins are in software and accessories?

Auto manufacturers are trying to drive their cost down, yet, at the same time, expectations toward the finished products are getting higher each day. This is where technology plays an important role, not only in production efficiency, but also as an offering to the end consumer, to satisfy their technology and connectivity cravings.

In the future, when I buy a car, I will also ask the car salesperson, “Can this car make calls, send emails, have Facetime connectivity? What are the downloading and uploading speeds, and, by the way, what is the RAM of this car, please?”

And, what are we going to call that special car with such features? Telefonica is a company in South America that is working towards this direction. They call it ‘Connected Car’. They are working on “technologies that establishes intelligent communications between things”. Soon, communication is no longer a human forte. Watch out as things around you start to speak. Even your car seats will complain when you run a red light! Make sure that you can recognise your spouse’s voice amidst all other voices from the ‘things’ in your car, to avoid another disaster!

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