CTIA Connected Car Panel Highlights Safety, Innovation

September 10, 2014  - By
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Image: GPS World

When comedian Larry Wilmore started out Day 2 at CTIA Super Mobility Week by reporting from a connected car on the show floor, he was only half joking when he said, “It’s almost like you’re driving in a smart phone, and with smart phones getting bigger it’s not too far off. I think I saw an HTC this size.”

The experts in the keynote Connected Car panel agreed: The car is the new smart phone.

Just ask Ralph de la Vega, CEO of the just-formed AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions Group, who called the Chevy Corvette “the best smart phone I’ve ever gotten to test.” The Corvette was conveniently displayed next to the stage, along with a connected Tesla Model S.

As CTIA CEO Meredith Atwell Baker pointed out, what was once relegated to the CTIA show floor is now in dealerships all across the U.S. The statistics thrown out by de la Vega supported this observation. Thirty-two percent of new cars sold globally (and 60% of new cars sold in the U.S.) by 2017 will be embedded with cellular technology. Seventy-two percent of people would delay a new car purchase one year to buy a connected car by their preferred automaker.

De la Vega co-moderated the panel with Glenn Lurie, his successor as CEO of AT&T Mobility. Panelists representing General Motors/OnStar, Ericsson, VoiceBox and Tesla overwhelmingly agreed that the emphasis on the connected car going forward has to be safety.

“[Drivers are] trying to fill the time and be productive. People naturally want to do that. They’re going to bring the phone in, reach over, grab it and try to do things. And the more capabilities, the more they’ll do it,” said Mike Kennewick, co-founder & CEO of VoiceBox, maker of natural language technology. “It’s imperative as we bring the Internet into the car, there’s a component that allows you to do it safely.”

What that would mean, exactly, though, was a matter of opinion. Each panelist had a chance to discuss their company’s recent and coming advancements.

  • De la Vega says AT&T’s studies show people prefer a shared family data plan that would allos them to share data across people and across devices, and a belief by the wireless provider that customers should be able to add their cars to their rate plans.
  • GM has successfully integrated 4G/LTE into 33 different models in the U.S. and Canada and next plans expansion in Europe, Mary Chan, President of Global Connected Consumer at GM shared.
  • VoiceBox’s Kennewick calls the voice recognition in cars today “just like the movies” but says VoiceBox strives to simplify the apps in cars and make voice activation less about reiterative command-and-control.
  • Telsa, a leader in over-the-air auto updates, will be launching a mass market car “in a few years” and is now exploring how best to keep the customer experience focused in the car. Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan also said the company is considering opening up its infotainment stystem to other partners.
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About the Author:


Bethany Chambers has been a digital editor for GPS World since 2012. She also serves as digital operations manager for GPS World parent company North Coast Media. Chambers is a multimedia journalist with expertise in the business and healthcare fields who has won awards from the National Press Club and the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership. She has a masters in interactive publishing from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a bachelors in marketing from Duquesne University.

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