As the technology market grows several industries are being disrupted as result. One of these industries is the car market where we are seeing self driving models and features to cater for people who see a car journey as an opportunity to get some work done.
The major tech shows of the year used to centre around new smartphone releases from the big tech companies like Samsung and LG. Increasingly we are seeing more car manufacturers pitching up to show off their newest and future models as the boundaries between mobile technology and car technology increasingly merge.
Until now, Google has been leading the driverless car charge as it is now years into testing driverless vehicles on the roads in the US. The UK is expecting to see driverless cars on its roads in the next few years which opens up a whole new realm in terms of what a “driver” can achieve on their daily commute.
At CES in Las Vegas last month the show was treated to an insight into the future from Microsoft. In-car infotainment systems are now moving on from the days of storing music and films for passengers. Microsoft has announced it will be releasing Office 365, along with its virtual assistant Cortana, for users to get some ‘real work’ done in the car. However, a clear release date hasn’t been issued.
The technology venture has been made possible by a partnership with Harman which will enable the tech giant to mix its software and cloud expertise with Harman’s experience of creating connected products, audio systems and other components which several major car brands already use.
Microsoft isn’t expecting users to be creating long Word documents or reports whilst in transit, or at least not yet, but rather aim to allow the use of voice control, via Cortana, to schedule meetings, have Skype conference calls and respond to emails and messages. I am presuming the voice control indicates Microsoft is expecting drivers to use this software in the current car market rather than to use in some Back To The Future/ I-Robot futuristic type of world. Although by the time we get there I am sure they will be ready, as will the other big tech companies.
We are probably only a decade away from being able to realistically buy a completely driverless car but we are already seeing a lot of technology which is helping drivers leave at least some of the driving to the onboard computer. Automatic breaking systems, self parking, and cameras which asses the concentration levels of the drivers are all either in use today or are shortly about to hit the market. In a lot of respects, having some middle ground between 100% user driven and 100% autonomously operated is an essential step. I can’t see myself stepping out of my Polo and straight into an autonomous vehicle and then trusting it completely with my life! Having some car technology in the middle of that step, ie. driver assisted tech, will help sales when the time comes as a baseline of trust in the technology will have been established.
Ed Says… So what does this mean for the Channel? As we continue to see Unified Communications hit the headlines I see the car as an extension of this proposition. We may be a few years away yet but if you are in the UC game/ sell 365 already then keep an eye out on the in-car tech market. It WILL happen and being an early adopter in this market could pay off in spades!