I attended a high tech conference at CES earlier this month sponsored by my friends at Arrive and Flowbird. The thrust was autonomous and connected vehicles. Speakers ranged from an “evangelist” from Amazon who discussed moving Alexa seamlessly from your house to your car, and two wonderful nerds from the University of Michigan who discussed the reality of self driving cars.
My attention was drawn to one speaker who was discussing ‘connected’ vehicles. Here’s the deal. Virtually all new cars delivered in the recent past are ‘connected’ to somewhere (most likely the manufacturer) and data is being constantly uploaded about your vehicle’s health, and in many cases its speed, location, and other tidbits.
Those under 40 in the room seemed non plussed by this conversation, but oldsters like me began to sit up and take notice. So let’s see. Ford, Toyota or BMW will not only know all about the way my car is handling, it’s drive train and steering, but they will also know all about where I am going, how long I am staying, and the route I’m taking to get there.
They can then ‘sell’ that information to a municipality who wants to better understand its traffic patterns and the like. I can sort of buy into that, not like it particularly, but understand it. They can also sell that information to local merchants who would love to know who is driving by at a particular moment and then be able to send ads to Alexia on board my car.
She can then remind me that I am a tad peckish and perhaps I would like to turn in to that McDonald’s up the block and pick up a coffee and prune Danish. Of course that order would be ready and paid for when I arrived.
There might be a problem for Alexa deciding whether to recommend McDonald’s or Starbucks, but then that would be solved quickly by whichever paid her the most. (I know I’m getting a bit far afield here, this was not discussed at the conference.) But you get the idea.
This concept is not in the future, I’m told that Parking Today can focus ads down to small markets and by using geofencing we can market to specific clients, even limited ads to small areas, including within buildings. Why not send data to specific vehicles?
The speaker was talking about a seminar he attended where a young representative of a software supplier to one of the automakers was answering a question about “what if I don’t want my data spread around all the merchants in a given area.”
He said that when you purchased a vehicle you would sign a document allowing the company to collect and sell data about you. But what if I don’t want to have that data collected and sold? “Then we won’t sell you the car.”
My 15 year old non connected car is looking better and better.