We are entering into the age of the Internet of Things, where sensors, computers and devices are connected in a self-managing ecosystem. The concept of connected devices generally known as the Internet of Things is all set to explode and there will be a revolution in coming times. The goal is to achieve human-to-human, human-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions that enhance all our activities and enrich our lives. The number of connected devices is rapidly increasing and expected to increase by 30% in 2015 to 4.9 billion by 2020 according to research by Gartner.
The connected car is already a reality. In all vehicles wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding right from luxury to high-volume mid-market models, and this changing landscape of connectivity would build a new set of specifications for the cars of future. With an increasing need for digital content within a vehicle, it has emphasised the need for latest infotainment system and simultaneously created wide opportunities for application developer and graphics designer.
The car of today is already packed with electronics and, in fact, has the highest density of electronic components as compared to other consumer machines. A plethora of technologies powers the car today and these technologies fall into three domains: safety & security, infotainment & telematics, and powertrain/fuel economy. Infotainment and telematics are addressed by technologies that enable smart traffic management, positioning & location-based services, car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication and in the future, perhaps autonomous driving. The powertrain/fuel economy domain is addressed by technologies in engine control, shift-by-wire, stop/start, engine downsizing and street predictability.
The Internet of Cars becomes a full platform within the Internet of Everything. Safety and security as well as infotainment and telematics are richly enhanced with the benefit of connectivity and data transfer. In today’s time safety without doubt is a serious concern for car users. The technology within the cars when connected together can help each other to be safer. Armed with smart sensors to detect the environment around the car, connectivity to be online, and satellite positioning to establish relative location, cars can inform condition of traffic and road conditions and other concerns ahead.
Taking safety and security as a top priority, an innovative example of telematics in India is in the state of Kerala. She-Taxi service has been launched in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki and Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation to help women reach their desired destinations safely. She-Taxi has been designed and integrated with web-mobile based convergent technologies which will monitor and track the activities of the passenger as well as the cab driver. She-Taxis are well equipped with several safety features which are a combination of both technology as well as general features. Safety alert switches for drivers near the seat, passenger safety alert switches at the back side, drivers safety systems on their mobile phone, safety alert receivers at control stations, GPS-based tracking system, controlling over speed, rash driving, sudden brake, sudden turn, remote engine off, theft protection are all an extension and part of telematics which are playing a role in making taxi services in India safer.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the telematics market in India is expected to reach 1.3 million units by 2021.
Government policies on the installation of telematics devices in commercial vehicles will help in the growth of the telematics market in India. Currently, 2G/2.5G based modules have dominated the Indian telematics market, but with the launch of 3G and 4G networks, a shift towards 3G and 4G based modules is expected over the coming years.
Telematics applications can automatically execute emergency assistance calls in the time of accidents. Vehicle maintenance, the preventive route to car safety, is already being greatly enhanced. Remote diagnosis of the vehicle and data logging can keep track of and highlight the need for running repairs of the vehicle. Telematics also enables anti-theft features as a stolen car can be tracked and its whereabouts reported to the authorities. On a macro level, the internet of cars can enable intelligent traffic forecast and management through a unified communication network for vehicles that is leading to safer roads, less congestion and lower emissions caused by cars stuck in traffic jams.
With GPS technology in car navigation and the capability to receive signals from multiple satellite systems to collect information has improved accuracy and response time in determining vehicle position and this has expanded the utility of this function beyond basic navigation to safety-related applications.
India telematics market is exhibiting growth as the consumers are becoming more cautious about their safety while driving. Moreover, automobile companies are collaborating with telematics module manufacturing companies to develop in-built telematics systems during the production process itself. Added to this, the low-cost telematics solutions are encouraging the end users as they are able to afford this technology.
The Internet-ready vehicle brings with it host of security concerns related to the data it will generate. Like the smartphone platform, the new technology cars are also facing critical issues related to business model, standardisation etc.
The absence of a certified body or an agency for standardisation and regulations of telematics industry is the biggest challenge faced by this sector. Regardless of certain core challenges like adoption of technology, developing countries have a massive potential to leverage and reap benefits of road safety and also improvements in economic efficiency.
The writer is country head, Telit Wireless Solutions India