Internet Connected Cars Will Jump By 50 Percent In The Next Five Years

Over a five-year span, ABI Research expects the amount of “connected” cars to move from 11.4 percent worldwide to north of 60 percent, indicating a massive shift in the role computers play in our driving.

By “connected cars,” ABI is referring to things like built-in Internet and smartphone connectivity. And much of the increase will come from the United States and Western Europe, where the amount of “smart car” drivers will exceed 80 percent, ABI predicted.

“In-car connectivity is quickly transforming the automotive industry, enabling passive and active safety and security and offering infotainment and connected lifestyle services to consumers but also enabling new car ownership, usage, and experience modes such as car sharing, (semi)-autonomous driving, dynamic demand-response electric vehicle charging pricing, and customer and vehicle relationship management services including prognostics and preventive maintenance,” said ABI VP and practice director, Dominique Bonte.

Cars and Kinect

ABI has good reason to expect the coming revolution. Already tech giant Microsoft is getting into the mix. The company revealed in a recent job posting (picked up by that it would be looking to integrate the Xbox Kinect as well as Windows 8 and Windows Phone into a next-generation car platform.
According to the want ad seeking a software engineer, the company stated, “For the next generation of the Connected Car Platform, we plan to leverage the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, Azure, and Tellme,” adding their connected car would “know its riders, and will interact with them naturally via speech, gestures, and face tracking. It will learn their habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible.”

CEOutlook noted that in January, Delphi showed a concept system that watches driver eye movement and “goes blank” if he focuses too long on the dash display. “The infotainment system is tied into a radar/camera system for safety,” the website reported.

How Will Connected Cars Affect Auto Insurance?

As far as those watching the insurance industry are concerned, the key question is this: what will a connected car hooked up to the Internet mean for premiums? Technology advancements currently walk a tightrope between adding to the safety and convenience of driving and acting as a major distraction. The onus will be on developers and engineers to see how they can marry these technologies to the skills and expertise of the driver.

It’s interesting to see how it will play out, especially in the case of the Delphi project that incorporates facial and eye recognition. If a car can detect when you’re not paying attention to the road — as we recently covered with our post on the Attention Powered Car — what measures will it take to get your eyes back on the road?

The APC utilized a slow-down function, but that doesn’t necessarily keep a car from switching lanes or running a red light at an intersection. A temporary auto-pilot function could do the trick, but that could move the danger from car-jacking to car-hacking in which a hacker takes control of an automobile.

While the copout answer to the above question is, “It’s too early to tell,” it really is! But one thing is for certain: the insurance industry has a new and exciting challenge ahead of it in weighing the risks and the rewards of automobiles that can think for themselves.

What do you think — will rates go up or down for cars that incorporate Internet connectivity and other “smart” technology features? And what do you think some of the key contributors will be either way?


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