Get Ready For “Smart Cars” This Year

Rapid technological change has promoted some astonishing developments in many industries, from Internet-connected mobile phones to online residential security systems. Now industry experts urge consumers to prepare for a new wave of innovation impacting the automotive industry.

The advent of “smart cars” promises to radically change the way many people drive. It also raises a number of important concerns relating to shrinking zones of personal privacy.

Introducing New Technology This Year

For instance, in February, the large electronics company Samsung introduced its version of an automotive device called a “dongle” at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The new Samsung Connect Auto program uses this technology attached to an ODB II port beneath the steering wheel to obtain highly detailed and location-specific information. It will compete with another dongle already on the market sponsored by Vinli.

Dongles send specific tailored information back to the driver using cloud-based services. A Chinese manufactured Tizen Operating System enables customers to subscribe to a variety of specific services. Drivers can obtain advanced notice about roadway conditions and suggestions for detours and improved driving. The system will recommend modifications to conserve fuel and enhance safety. Samsung reportedly arranged with AT&T to make this new Chinese system available to U.S. drivers during the second half of 2016.

Detailed Data Streams

The new system provides detailed real-time information about driving patterns and skills. Consumers interested in obtaining insurance discounts for safe driving may want to install this device in order to obtain safety ratings.

The Auto Connect System will also furnish drivers with very technical data about some automotive systems in the vehicle, such as diagnostic information about the performance of the transmission and the engine. Using mobile apps, drivers with dongle-equipped vehicles will enjoy the ability to locate their auto easily in a crowded parking lot. They can remotely lock or unlock doors. Some of these features will compete with Vinli, which has already developed mobile apps capable of performing some astonishing feats, such as Beagle, a program tracking Vinli-equipped vehicles remotely.

Consumer Privacy Concerns

Of course, the enhanced driver feedback data, like many new technologies, reaches the market with a privacy toll: consumers using these devices potentially furnish insurance companies and other commercial and government entities with a lot of information about their driving habits, locations and car maintenance behaviors. Perhaps in the future, legislation will address these new automotive privacy issues.