How is Digitization Changing Marketing and Connecting in the Car?

Digitization is changing the way vehicles are driven, the way vehicles are marketed, and it is changing the very experience of life. During the recent J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV, a panel of OEM, third-party website and digital technologies company experts discussed opportunities and challenges for the auto industry in taking advantage of these new and future digital technologies, including GPS predictive technologies, telematics, gesture recognition, and inter-communication of vehicles and signals.

Some of the key topics and trends from the panel discussion are summarized:

• The sky is the limit. Computing power is increasing and consumers are adopting technology much faster.

• Specifically, the technology for cars to drive themselves is already available. Re-engineering will be needed to make it affordable. The real issues are government- and society- related. Safety and liability issues need to be considered as well. Panelists estimated that self-driving cars may be available in 5+ years.

• Panelists discussed how telematics has enabled vehicle updates to be downloaded even while the owner sleeps.

• Even vehicle and driver-specific information can be tracked in the future, including, but not limited to, information to help auto insurance providers in figuring out premiums, accident information, and vehicle valuation.

• Connect sensors that will be an integral part of voice recognition are currently being studied. For instance, when a driver says, “Radio,” and lifts a hand, the audio volume increases.

• Some automakers already are demonstrating on-the-road communication between vehicles. The biggest challenge in rolling out these new vehicle communication connections will be for the industry to work together on new digital technologies. Lissa McCann, manager, media and marketing research at J.D. Power and Associates

Panelists included:

1. Ray Velez, chief technology officer of Razorfish, was moderator.

2. George Ayres, vice president of global sales, Hughes Telematics, Inc.

3. Tom Metzger, senior vice president, general manager, Connected Vehicles, ATX Group, Inc.

4. Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology, Edmunds.com

5. James T. Pisz, corporate manager, Advanced Technology, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

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