The magic of machines talking to each other opens up endless possibilities for the automotive sector, with connected cars set to become a reality eventually.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is estimated to have billions of connected devices which will multiply as more people begin to experience the advantages of technology. RR Bipin, Vice President of Digital Services, IoT, Embedded Product Design Division, Tata Elxsi, discusses how this will shape the future of the automotive industry. Excerpts:

How will a connected car change our lives?

The connected car is equipped with Internet connections and software that allow consumers to stream music, look up movie times and get alerts on traffic, weather conditions and so on. The number of vehicles with built-in connectivity will increase from 10 per cent of the overall market to 90 per cent by 2020, predicts Telefonica, in its Connected Car Industry Report. The stage is set for an in-car experience that will rival the one you can have in the comfort of your living room. Connected cars are changing the driving experience by improving safety and convenience. New car technologies offer consumers the facility of an in-car problem diagnosis, infotainment, enhanced safety, convenience services, traffic management and cash response. Car makers and technology companies are racing to provide the best solution that will further usher in IoT with cars as a key part of the infrastructure.

Could you dwell on IoT from an auto sector perspective?

With the advent of IoT, connected devices are getting a makeover like never before. From automotive Heads-Up-Display and Internet connectivity, to improved sensors, driver assist systems, and voice activated apps, the trend is stepping into an age where the car can be essentially considered a big smartphone.

Cars will be a major element of the expanding IoT universe, with one in five vehicles having some sort of wireless network connection by 2020. They would account for more than a quarter of a billion cars on global roads according to Gartner.

How are smartphones, tablets and other devices influencing the automobile industry?

At present, the user can enter a car and pair his/her smart phone to the head unit and activate a set of functions like taking calls, navigation, play audio/video, etc. Soon the expensive infotainment head units could get replaced by smart phones with numerous applications like cloud based navigation, fuel reminders, driver profile etc. However, the real impact of external devices is most likely to happen with wearables that are tightly coupled with various functions of the car.

What are some of the developments from a cloud-based navigation system perspective?

As smartphones and technologies improve rapidly, navigation plays a significant role in our lives and has become a basic feature of our devices. With growing number of connected cars, there is an increasing demand for off-board navigation services as part of hybrid navigation.

While car makers aim for an increased level of integration with the car, hybrid routing still poses a real challenge in terms of cost, speed, quality and simplicity. Online navigation services provide the building blocks to hybrid navigation. It offers state-of-the-art navigation to different devices and platforms such as smartphone companion app, web portal and in-car navigation systems, etc. Some of the benefits of cloud based navigation system are for parking, journey times, finding restaurants, super markets etc. Smartphone-based apps that have the ability to communicate to various car electronic control units are beginning to take shape. The challenge is to encompass the smartphone as an end node of the security architecture of the car.

How big is IoT from an automotive sector perspective?

As the lives of consumers become increasingly complex, there is an inclination to rely more on technology to simplify, support and remove tasks that can be more efficiently accomplished by machines. IoT has the ability to deliver throughout the entire technology ecosystem and make everyone’s lives easier.

According to ABI Research, there will be more than 30 billion devices connected to IoT by 2020. IoT is transforming the navigational aspects of controlling a car. Drivers are fed constant updates on the condition of every part. It enables vehicles to stay connected with the driver at any point of time. IoT also plays a huge role in connecting individual equipment directly to the original equipment manufacturers.