The Highway to Connectivity

Connectivity has opened new doors for entertainment options inside the car, embodied by the notion of ‘in-car infotainment’

Already a highly lucrative market, infotainment is predicted to reach $52 billion by 2020, according to a recent BIS Automotive report. Yet, in a world where everything is becoming connected, developments in in-car infotainment have long been siloed.

The car has always evolved in line with the entertainment needs of drivers and passengers. Radio was one of the first types of infotainment services available in the car, followed by cassette and CD players, and now streaming services like Spotify. Advancements in technology are now expanding the scope of the infotainment market beyond music, enabling multiple industries to get a slice of the pie. Each car part can communicate with the head unit, turning the vehicle into a self-managed environment in a similar way to IoT solutions in the home. In the future, we will see both worlds converge through entertainment.

However, it is still early days for this vision to come true. The entertainment, automotive and IoT industries are only embarking on this journey, with entertainment providers in the driver’s seat. For infotainment services to truly bring these three worlds together, the first hurdle to overcome is customisation.

The ideal infotainment solution needs to adjust to each passenger, user’s content and platform preferences, and each journey. For example, picking up children from school in a spacious family-friendly car for a total duration of one hour will offer a certain set of entertainment options, such as family-friendly cartoon episodes or children-friendly video games. This is drastically different from a taxi picking up a customer for a 20-minute ride inside the city, where the best options would be short-form comedic videos over YouTube, access to breaking news or the latest weather forecast. This specialist skill set requires better collaboration between the automotive and content industries, who are slated to converge once driverless cars become commercially accessible to the public.

Collaboration between these two industries will enable automotive manufacturers to extend their branding beyond the vehicle, improving customer engagement and preserving the brand. Valuable solutions will also act as a central collection point for information originating from the various car parts, providing a simplified method for OEMs to collect useful data for both in-vehicle and offline analytics to enhance the customer experience and brand engagement. For the content industry, the potential for monetisation is enormous: studios could offer exclusive content to passengers inside the car, while broadcasters and content distributors can strike deals with manufacturers to extend their pay TV services outside of the home and build a stronger relationship with their subscribers.

As the revolution towards a more automated, connected future moves forward, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) will become a cornerstone of automotive. Led by the increased collaboration with the IoT industry, who seeks to capitalise on the advent of greater connectivity in the car, it will offer a brand new entertainment experience that adjusts to each passenger, each journey and each device.

Thanks to the mass market adoption of IoT, consumers are already becoming accustomed to a massive array of connected devices that can access information from anywhere, and at any time. From sensors inside the home via security cameras to virtual assistants with voice control, our homes are becoming connected ecosystems faster than anyone predicted. The car is the next frontier, and in future, it will connect with other devices, and even our homes, immediately and seamlessly for unified entertainment experiences that simplify our lives.

The crux of the challenge today is collaboration between the different sectors of entertainment, automotive and IoT, who can jointly bring forward the ubiquitous future that consumers have dreamt of for years.

About the Author

Marcin Hanclik is SVP Product Management at ACCESS Europe, global provider of software solutions for connected TVs, set-top boxes in the connected home, connected car, cloud solutions, smartphones, tablets, digital publishing and networking markets.