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Automakers to profit off driver data

General Motor’s infotainment screen allows customers to order their morning coffee with their car.

The sheer volume of software and artificial intelligence in new vehicles means new service and revenue streams are quickly emerging.

The big question now is whether automakers can profit off collectable driver data without alienating consumers.

“Carmakers recognise they’re fighting a war over customer data,” said Roger Lanctot to Bloomberg, who works with automakers on data monetisation as a consultant for Strategy Analytics. “Your driving behaviour, location, has monetary value, not unlike your search activity.”

Carmakers’ ultimate objective, Lanctot said, is to build a database of consumer preferences that could be aggregated and sold to outside vendors for marketing purposes, much like Google and Facebook do today.

Data collecting will allow auto manufacturers to create a better driving experience—enabling cars to predict flat tyres, find a parking space or charging station, or alert city managers to dangerous intersections where there are frequent accidents.

Data collection could also protect drivers from crime, Ford Motor Co.’s chief executive officer said last month at the Consumer Electric Show (CES).

The benefit there is hopefully an improved relationship, so we know you better, we understand you better and we’re able to deliver better services to you,” Don Butler, Ford’s executive director for connected vehicles and services, said in an interview in Las Vegas.

If consumers want to take advantage of these kinds of new connected features, especially making purchases while driving or using ride-hailing apps, they’ll have to give up at least some privacy, said Mike Abelson, vice president of strategy at GM. He said the company isn’t currently selling data to third parties.

“We’re not considering that,” he said. But he added: “I wouldn’t want to make a statement for forever.”

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Nissan unveils ‘B2V’ research

Nissan announced their latest breakthrough research yesterday that enables vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain – redefining how people interact with their cars.

The company’s Brain-to-Vehicle, or B2V, technology promises to speed up reaction times for drivers and will lead to cars that keep adapting to make driving more enjoyable. 

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable,” said Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci.

 “Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, we are moving people to a better world by delivering more autonomy, more electrification and more connectivity.”

 This breakthrough from Nissan is the outcome of research into using brain decoding technology to predict a driver’s actions and detect discomfort.

By catching signs that the driver’s brain is about to initiate a movement – such as turning the steering wheel or pushing the accelerator pedal – driver assist technologies can begin the action more quickly. This can improve reaction times and enhance manual driving.

 “The potential applications of the technology are incredible, this research will be a catalyst for more Nissan innovation inside our vehicles in the years to come.”


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Hyundai and Kia to offer AI assistants

Hyundai and Kia both have reputations as keeping up to date with leading car technologies, so its no news that the Korean automakers have revealed a plan to include AI assistants in their new cars starting from 2019. 

The two brands took a major step towards equipping future connected vehicles with the voice recognition technology necessary to keep pace with growing, real-time data needs of drivers. Hyundai’s “Intelligent Personal Agent,” (IPA), a voice-enabled virtual assistant system, will be deployed in new models set to roll out as early as 2019.

Hyundai’s “Intelligent Personal Agent,” a voice-enabled virtual assistant system, will be deployed in new models set to roll out as early as 2019.

The Intelligent Personal Agent is unique in that it acts as a proactive assistant system, predicting the driver’s needs and providing useful information. For instance, the system may give an early reminder of an upcoming meeting and suggest departure times that account for current traffic conditions.

This sounds a lot like what other voice assistants do, but the car brands are counting on support for “multiple-command recognition” to set itself apart from the competition. When the user says, “Tell me what the weather will be like tomorrow and turn off the lights in our living room,” the system recognises two separate commands in the same sentence and completes each task separately.

You won’t have to wait until 2019 to see the technology in action. Hyundai will unveil Intelligent Personal Agent, at CES 2018, and it’ll test a “simplified” take on the Agent in hydrogen fuel cell cars slated to drive on South Korean roads throughout the year.

It’s hard to say if IPA will have an advantage over companies borrowing AI from the likes of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but it’s more the universality that will be important due to the fact that you won’t have to buy a premium car to treat your car like a smart home hub. 

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The Smart Home market is growing

Starting with smart home voice control, vehicle integration with smart home management will increasingly draw other functions into the connected vehicle.

The smart home market is growing, and it is drawing in car manufacturers and their development strategies. Mercedes, BMW, Ford, and others are all utilising smart home voice control platforms into their connected cars.

According to ABI Research, by 2022, more than 500 million cars will have shipped with the smart home connect device.

The ability to tie those vehicles into the platforms controlling more than 300 million smart homes is driving investment and partnerships across both markets.

“Extending smart home voice control into the connected vehicle is part of an ongoing integration that will pull together home and vehicle personalisation. It marks a weakening of Original Equipment Manufacturers’ (OEMs) total control over the technologies embedded into their vehicles,” says Jonathan Collins, Research Director at ABI Research.

“That means OEMs will have to select partnerships and technology suppliers that can best support the widest integrations.”

Combining vehicle integration with smart home management will draw other functions into the connected vehicle. Navigation, insurance, health, energy management, AI, media management, and other applications and supporting industries will integrate with connected vehicles and often directly through smart home interaction.

However, OEM manufacturers are often faced with conflicting options for technologies and smart home partnerships.

The smart home market has a variety of vendors, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and others building platforms with industry-wide standards remaining minimal.

“With the looming potential of autonomous vehicles, OEMs are faced with an array of potential partners to help support that generation of vehicles that increasingly threaten the OEMs sole role in controlling the functionality and appeal of their vehicles,” says Collins.

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Jaguar debuts concept AI steering wheel

Jaguar has revealed a steering wheel that uses artificial intelligence (AI) at a tech festival in London.

The concept steering wheel is called Sayer, and aims to fulfil the role of a personal concierge, according to the company.

The Sayer concept sterring wheel. Source: Jaguar Land Rover

The steering wheel is part of a future that the company sees in which you do not necessarily own any one car, but rather summon one with the AI steering wheel, when needed.

“This steering wheel concept lives in your home and becomes your trusted companion. Sayer could signal your membership of our on-demand service club. A club which offers either sole ownership or the option of sharing the car with others in your community,” Jaguar says.

Jaguar says that Sayer could potentially be part of a future where the steering wheel is the only part of the car you own.

Jaguar says the Sayer steering wheel will be able to carry out hundreds of tasks, from scheduling meetings and events, waking you up at the right time for them, and organising transport to them.

“Simply ask Sayer from the comfort of your living room and it will work out when you get up, when a car needs to autonomously arrive at your door and even advise which parts of the journey you might enjoy driving yourself.”

This futuristic concept will debut with Jaguar Land Rover at Central St Martins’ Tech Fest 2017, University of the Arts London.

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