The Internet of Things is upon us. Wearable technology, for example, has been generating tons of buzz recently–just yesterday, Salesforce.com took its first major step into the space by launching Salesforce Wear, a developer pack of customizable applications for Samsung Gear, Google Glass, the Myo armband, Android Wear, the Pebble Smartwatch and the Nymi device. Exciting as this may seem, the news got me wondering: how likely are people to purchase yet another piece of technology to do what their smartphone, tablet, and laptop can already do (better)? If you ask me, the Internet of Things movement will have more luck catching on if the focus shifts to Internet-izing things that are further away from smart phones on the tech spectrum.
Internet-enabled cars, for example, are already in high demand. According to a recent poll conducted by Capgemini, 43 percent of consumers would like their next vehicle to be a connected car, which the report defines as one “where the driver and the vehicle itself are linked to the world through the Internet and wireless networks.” So what exactly does that include? Anything from on-demand in-car entertainment to automatic alerts that can be sent to a mobile device when gas is low or it’s time for an oil-change. Though it’s tempting to assume that the on-demand entertainment would be the biggest draw to connected cars, Capgemini’s research showed that safety was actually the top-ranked feature of interest. Consumers want a car that can self-diagnose mechanical issues and alert the driver that maintenance is required–a whopping seventy nine percent of poll respondents said they were more likely to buy a car that offered this capability. But which ones do?
As I thought about this blog post on my way to work this morning, I realized that, despite seeing at least a dozen car commercials every day on television, I have yet to see one for a connected car. And then (I know this sounds like a cliche but this totally happened this morning!) I heard an advertisement for Hyundai Blue Link on the radio. In a nutshell, Blue Link is pretty powerful stuff–the technology can help drivers discover new destinations, check maintenance and safety sensors, lock and unlock their vehicle from their smartphone, monitor their vehicle from afar and enable geo-fencing, curfews and security alerts. Though some of these features have been available here and there, Blue Link brings them all together to build smart cars (lowercase s, lowercase c). It’s a pretty stark contrast from, say, NissanConnect, Nissan’s stab at creating a connected vehicle. But Nissan’s attempt doesn’t reach any further than a tablet does–it makes a variety of apps available through the car’s dashboard, but doesn’t integrate with the functionality of the car itself. It can’t, for example, send maintenance alerts or alert you when your teen misses his curfew. Isn’t that just like having a tablet in your car?
Long story short, the Internet of Things is ripe with potential. Hyundai is making the most of it–why isn’t anyone else? And if they are, why aren’t they advertising it?