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Vehicle technology: who’s driving the future?

By CJ Castillo / May 28, 2013


Vehicle technology has seen a growth within the last couple of years. From onboard navigation to detailed infotainment systems, customers can now make calls, send texts or check emails just by using their voice.

Over the years, we’ve seen more car makers embracing vehicle technology. Microsoft and Ford collaborated to develop Ford SYNC, a hands-free, voice-recognition communication system introduced in 2007. Then Saab announced IQon in 2011, lauded as the first Android-based infotainment system for an automobile. Chevrolet has since introduced the Siri “Eyes Free” feature in the Sonic, while Honda and Hyundai have also announced plans to include this feature in some of its models.

Tech support needed

With new technology, there’s always a learning curve. A recent article in Wired emphasized the problem with car technology isn’t the tech itself, but the customer [editor’s note: read our response here]. To deal with this alleged “user issue,” many automakers are now adding their own tech support specialists to help guide their drivers into the 21st century.

Last year, Lexus announced they were adding Vehicle Technology Specialists to assist customers with advanced vehicle functions, including the Lexus Enform telematics system. Additionally, BMW is launching the “BMW Genius Everywhere” in Europe, and is expected to start a pilot program in the U.S. this year. The “Geniuses” will be on the showroom floors to assist customers with questions related to automobiles and their features.

Plotting a course to the future

With recent news that Apple has filed two patents for car technology, one can only wonder what tomorrow has in store for our vehicles. One of the patents filed by Apple involves a “method for locating a vehicle,” through an Apple device and a Bluetooth connection. The second patent application, “accessing a vehicle using portable devices,” details a method to unlock your car using your iPhone.

It’ll be interesting to see if Apple can revolutionize the automotive industry like it did the cellphone, computer and music markets. As Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, claimed in a recent Gizmodo article, “Apple has a lot going for it in that it controls so much of the ecosystem from hardware, software to services. It’s probably in the best spot to bring some sort of a standard to the automotive industry.”