Since automobiles first appeared on our roads, people have been fascinated by imagining how future technology could transform them. From The Jetsons’ flying machines, through James Bond’s modified Aston Martins to Back to the Future’s time-travelling DeLorean and beyond, automobile technology has always captured the imagination.
But far from the realms of science fiction, last week’s announcement by Audi that it will launch the world’s first 4G-enabled car has caused a stir in the industry. From November, the Audi A3 Sportback will offer a feature allowing drivers to create an in-vehicle 4G hotspot, simply by inserting a SIM card into the dashboard. Initially, this feature will only be available in Europe, but is expected to also arrive in the US by 2015.
Audi is well known for combining cars with cutting-edge technology. Just recently it introduced the world’s first Augmented Reality car manual, and last week it also unveiled a ‘virtual’ concept car which it has designed for the upcoming film adaptation of ‘Ender’s Game’, a cult 1980s sci-fi novel.
The possibilities of a 4G-enabled vehicle, and the wider march of M2M into automobiles presents tremendous opportunity for the here and now. As well as a wi-fi hotspot, Audi’s use of Gemalto’s technology will give drivers and passengers access to Internet radio and an improved navigation system. But there are other, less noticeable, ways in which M2M is changing the face of the cars we drive.
eCall technology, which will be a mandatory element of every new European car from October 2015 onwards, is a good example. eCall is an automated system which alerts emergency services in the event of an accident, allowing them to respond instantly rather than waiting for a call from someone involved or a passer-by. In addition, it will be M2M technology which eventually enables the adoption of driverless cars, and it is M2M which is already helping to lower car insurance premiums thanks to telematics.
However you look at it, cars and M2M technology are on a collision course which can only possibly result in an improved experience for drivers. So while your car may not look like James Bond’s Aston Martin, at least you’ll soon be able to stream 007’s latest blockbuster while travelling in it.