How apps are changing the way we travel: the future of in-car traffic and navigation services
Hans-Hendrik Puvogel, general manager of INRIX Europe, discusses the factors that are driving in-car traffic information applications and where the automotive navigation industry is heading
Gone are the days of relying on the radio for scheduled traffic information updates. In today’s fast-paced and digitally advanced world, consumers have become accustomed to having a wealth of information instantly available at the touch of a button. Today’s traveler has access to information from a plethora of sources, from sat-nav to the web and from tablets to smartphones, all of which can provide a regular stream of traffic and travel information on-demand. Over the next few years, we will see the technology behind these data analytics-driven applications accelerate even further and as internet- connected vehicles hit the market in earnest, how will this change the journey of the future and what developments are we likely to see as such services become mainstream?
The business model fundamentals
At the heart of any emerging technology service is a business model that lays the foundations for growth and development. Basic navigation tools such as sat-nav and GPS are so widely obtainable, that providers looking to monetize the space must provide services in addition to the standardized information currently available in core applications.
Offering extra value is key; it is no longer enough to provide an estimated journey time or to identify a range of travel routes. The differentiator resides in the coverage and accuracy of the traffic information available. Commuters need definitive certainty of how long a journey will take alongside real-time traffic updates en-route to their destination.
The deciding factor for information providers is being able to deliver information through a range of sources and through the method which best suits the traveler, whether this be via an external sat nav, the dashboard of a vehicle or through a tablet or smartphone. Traffic information is in a phase of transition; over the next few years we will see an explosion of traffic-powered applications as services move from being an ‘optional paid-for extra’ to an essential requirement for all drivers. Costs will be integrated into the price of vehicles and mobile apps, much like in the broadcast industry where many digital services are now included in the purchase price of new television sets.
Applications (apps) on their many different platforms are continuing to gain momentum in the technology industry, and it is no different for the traffic information industry. As smartphones evolve and new tablet devices launch, the focus is on the next wave of innovation that will be created when data-powered smart devices connect and can start talking to each other.
We are already making moves towards this connected future. Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with Audi to integrate the Inrix real-time and predictive traffic service, XD Traffic, into the new Audi A6 vehicles. XD Traffic delivers next generation connected navigation and driver service apps in vehicles through mobile platforms and online. The aim of the service is to provide automotive manufacturers and navigation providers with the high quality of traffic information and set of tools they require to create apps for the daily driver.
The electric vehicles market also stands to benefit hugely from the innovation apps offer to the end user. Apps are starting to appear that can assess the remaining charge of electric vehicles and calculate how many more miles can be driven until the vehicle needs recharging. In the future we will also see that apps can identify and reserve the nearest charging station for drivers of electric vehicles, as well as apps that can navigate vehicles via the most efficient (and traffic-free!) route possible.
The future of travel technology
Besides better quality traffic information, there are several other enabling technologies, such as two-way connectivity and voice and touch-optimised user interfaces, that will really help bring the holistic app-based vision into reality. Traffic information is about much more than simply identifying alternative routes in busy periods: fundamentally, it allows for new intelligent applications of the data to create a point of differentiation and a new kind of USP. As we enter a new phase in the development of apps technology, market-leading manufacturers recognise the need and rising consumer demand for better, more reliable navigation applications for the daily driver to ensure they are meeting the needs of potential customers both now and in the future.
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