Connected mobility: Smart parking, smart routing, mobile OS integration

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At Bosch Connected World (#BCW15), Bosch’s annual IoT gathering in Berlin, there was a track dedicated to connected mobility.

The three big themes or clusters as far as I could see them, which pretty much reflect the discussion across the industry: smart parking, smart routing and mobile OS integration.

Smart parking

Cars could be equipped with ultrasonic scanners, so that the constantly scans for gaps on the side of the street and transmits the data back to the cloud for analysis, where it’s determined which “gaps” are legitimate, free parking spots. The whole thing would be done anonymously, of course, and constantly, to be shared.

What the unit/level of sharing would be, I couldn’t quite tell – is it across the fleet, or the app, or the service? It seems like a relatively small problem to be solved, but if it worked it could be quite magical – and it’s one of these issues that will create all kinds of interesting by-products once the technology works.

Smart routing

Highly evolved voice recognition would accept (pretty much) free form spoken input (like “change the route to go home first, then to visit Laura, then to the beach near the Marina”). It would also take into account personal preferences. Should this work as in the pitch video it would be a powerful vision.

One inherent challenge for any smart system that takes is supposed to take into account user calendar/availability and preferences is, of course, the users: they would need to articulate explicitly what it is they prefer, and when they’re available, and for what. Otherwise the results will be horribly off. It’s not something that people are historically good at

Mobile OS integration

This is a big one: How do you deal with several existing app/mobile OS ecosystems and their relation to the in-car connectivity layer? Where is the computing done, in the phone (and phone-related ecosystem) or the car (and car-related ecosystem)? Somewhere else entirely? In a hybrid model? Do you switch between phone OS depending on if you carry iPhone or Android, or add a meta layer on top to unify both into one human-machine interface (HMI)?

Bosch’s idea here was to display the phone’s apps inside their top HMI layer on an in-car screen. This seems pretty straight forward at a first glance; I’d imagine there to be some hard questions to tackle if you dig deeper, but that would have gone beyond the scope of this top-level talk.

It’s interesting to see so many players from a wide range of backgrounds hustle for their spot in the connected mobility space – which is a huge and fast-growing one. The questions are almost all pretty thorny, though. Think data ownership, connectivity, service design, privacy, legal liability chains… there’s no end of questions to figure out.

Full disclosure: I’ve been working with an automotive supplier on vaguely related projects. Nothing here reflects any confidential knowledge.