The Car is the 3rd Fastest Growing Wireless Gadget

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The race we are now seeing to connect smartphones to car radios is just an interim step, say analysts. The real goal is building 3 or 4G right into the radio, without the need of a connected smartphone.

And this shift will happen so quickly that in 3-4 years ALL cars will offer embedded wireless, says AT&T’s Glenn Lurie.

In fact, the connected car ” is the third-fastest growing technological device, following smartphones and tablets,” said Intel in a statement Wednesday.

Lurie who is President of AT&T’s Emerging Devices division,  said AT&T  is already working with BMW, Ford and Nissan on wireless entertainment embedded in cars.

Glen Lurie PC Mag
Glen Lurie of AT&T predicts all cars will have embedded wireless in 3-4 years.

As Nuance, which supplies speech technology to many auto makers, sees it,  built-in wireless is “a given” for the next generation car, because that’s what consumers want,  CTO Vlad Sejnoha told us in an interview.

“They expect a certain number of services to be integrated deeply, not just where you slap a smartphone into the car with some tiny buttons. There’s huge amount of investment in this. We are neck deep with our partners in providing those features in the car,” he said.

Users will still connect their phones to the radio, but only to play music or apps. The wireless service will be built into the radio, he explained.

Audi A7 2012
The 2012 Audi A7 has built-in wireless

Within 3 to 4 years, built-in wireless will become common in mid-tier cars, agrees  Strategy Analytics’ Roger Lanctot.

Some car companies are already rolling out embedded wireless.

Audi offers 3G in the  in the 2012 A7 and is extending it to other new models as they become available.  The fees for the wireless service range from $25 to $30 per month.  An Audi spokesman informed us by email, “the embedded wireless strategy is crucial to us.” He cited three reasons:

1) It is a vital first step in a vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

2) It helps eliminate driver distraction when dealing with incoming information.

3) It permits “total flexibility to update features in the car.”

For its part, Ford has announced it will embed an AT&T cellular connection in all its plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles, including the upcoming Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi. That technology feature is called “MyFord Mobile” and will be controlled via a smartphone app. (It also just won a Best Of Innovations award from the Consumer Electronics Association).

Nuance’s Sejnoha says future dashboards will include a car computer. “Apps will reside on a built-in computer….a local computer, powerful, with a lot of memory, and it will include communication capability so it can connect to a server at any point. That server might include some data, some natural language processing, and the user will just simply be aware they are talking to the system.”

He continued, “It can select media from the entertainment system, switch radio channels, you can ask for the nearest gas station. It will allow drivers to respond to their SMS texts that can be read outloud using synthetic voice. And a lot of these guys will also make it possible to connect to your smartphone for an app or music.” But they won’t rely on the phone for the wireless connection, he said.

Source: Forbes, CEoutlook

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  1. Hello Tom, what about tablets? Do people need tablets? Aren’t your phone and your portable PC enough? I think they cover your needs, but the tablet provides you with a more comfortable device in some situations, it is exactly the same as all those gadgets in your car. Be sure you will get them in your next car.

  2. I would prefer to see a docking station in my car rather than pay $xxxx for technology that i may or may not use. Then have my phone render on the screen inside the car. I have a better nav (Google Nav) than any i’ve seen in high end vehicles and I update it for free. With my Moto Droid I can offer WiFi (on LTE) to all my passengers. Auto manufacturers need to be cautious about what carrier, OS, etc they embed in vehicles. I’m very selective about the technology I use and would not see advantage of paying for a plan just for my car when my handset provides all the tech I need and I can update at my discretion. I keep cars well beyond my two year wireless carrier contract. I’m sure they’ll offer 6 months free like XM but how many of us actually renewed our satellite radio service? It’s mp3’s and Pandora for me.

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