Smart Cars of the Future (to go with your Smart Home)
Just as ‘brick phones’ have evolved into ‘smartphones’ and traditional homes are turning into ‘smart homes’ – cars are also taking a similar route and evolving into ‘smart cars’. These smart cars are equipped with futuristic and more importantly, practical features to make driving a more smoother experience.
Some car manufactures are already implementing a few of these things that we mention below, but we may be seeing all of them becoming standard features in all cars in the future.
1. Enhanced Gesture Control
Building on the already familiar existing technology of voice command and knob controls; Audi in 2011 introduced a new feature that provides ease in controlling a car’s functions with a feature called MMI touch, which is an enhancement of their already existing Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) system.
The great thing about MMI Touch is that drives can input characters just by using a finger to “write” on the designated touchpad. You can use this for keying in addresses for navigation purposes, entering phone numbers or simply selecting through songs to play. Mercedes-Benz has also introduced their own take on this gesture control concept.
2. Augmented Reality Head-Up Display
Sure, having augmented reality display on a car windscreen would add functionality to the car – we would be able to see information like speed, navigation details and even a name of an incoming call – but it won’t work under certain conditions (too much light on the screen; danger of being distracted). However, the concept is certainly cool. There is an app called HUDWAY, which you can place your iPhone on the dashboard of your car and navigation information (from your iPhone) will reflect and be displayed on your windscreen.
Head up displays are definitely something of the future, and in one positive way it will keep our eyes on the road giving us relevant information without us looking away at our display or phones.
3. Apps & Firmware Updates
Imagine driving a car that runs apps as powerful as your smart phone does. Imagine getting specialized apps for certain countries or cities with local information on restaurants, shopping centres, parks etc for travelers. Well, Toyota has already introduced a concept car called Fun Vii Concept Car which can do the above and more. “Vii” is an acronym for Vehicle, Interactive, Internet – a concept car which allows the driver to be constantly connected with everyone including your friends and other passing automobiles.
While it may take some time before cars like Fun Vii get into the production stage, cars with the ability to have firmware updates are already on the market. The Telsa Model S which is a 100% electric car is one that has such firmware updates.
4. Sheet Thin Batteries
Batteries in existing electric cars are bulky and heavy, with manufacturers left with the task of finding a suitable place to find the large amount of batteries while ensuring the car is well balanced throughout. A smart concept is to have batteries hidden in plain sight by replacing the cosmetic parts of a car. These parts could be the panels throughout the car on both the interior and exterior – with batteries being thin and bendable.
5. Communication Between Vehicles
Improve traffic congestion and minimize car accidents with technology that improves road safety by warning you about a car that is coming from your blind spot. If machines communicate with each other, this will significantly increase road safety, efficiency and driving experience.
6. Smart Fuel Saving Tips
Another cool feature to have in the ‘smart car’ is fuel saving tips (or notifications) that get sent to you while driving in real time. For example, notifications of nearby petrol stations that have cheaper prices.
7. Perfect Integration With Smartphones
Something that is lacking at the moment is imrpoved integration with smart phones in today’s modern cars. Sure, playing music off your smart phone is easy, but controlling your smart phones functionality through voice commands can prove a struggle, while pressing buttons on your smart phone and driving at the same time is illegal.
In knowing this, Honda is taking a pioneering step by integrating Apple’s Siri Eyes Free into thier upcoming car models. Meaning you can use iOS from the dashboard of your car without comprising on safety.
8. Long Term Evolution (LTE)
Built-in GPS devices (in cars) can work without needing internet access, but it would be even better if we got life traffic updates on top of the usual GPS navigation – and to do that – internet connection would be required.
Audi has already made plans to integrate Long Term Evolution (LTE) in their future car models. LTE would allow for quality internet radio, searching for a location using pictures and faster loading of life maps. LTE connection in a car can also turn the car into a Wi-Fi hot stop for passengers on laptops.
9. Self-Healing Paint
Self-healing paint is already around, but it hasn’t been implemented in consumer cars. Regardless, this is smart technology because surface scratches will disappear after just a few minutes and your car will look like how it once was, sure, deep scratches won’t be 100% perfectly gone but from a distance your car will still look good as new.
Although some of the above advanced features may come with expensive price tags, we can hope for a time where technology becomes efficient and cheaper at the same time – allowing for all these cool and practical features to be implemented in all cars of every price range.