BRAVE NEW WORLD
LA Auto Show’s "Connected Car Expo" goes into unchartered waters
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Published on Thu, Nov 21, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
For the first time, the LA Auto Show’s press days went from two to three days. The new day was to make way for “Connected Car Expo”—a day devoted to bringing automotive and technology professionals together to foster relationship-building in the connected car industry. A lot of key player were there. Editor-at-large Zoran Segina reports.
By Zoran Segina
Connected Car Expo
The 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show began with a full day of conferences and presentations on interconnectivity between mobile devices, cloud data and automotive systems. In the welcoming address, Mayor Eric Garcetti called Los Angeles one of the creative capitals of the world (behind Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv) claiming that "we have to reinvent ourselves." While top priority remains fixing the abysmal roads which cause $700 in annual damage on an average car, the citizens can now e-mail photos of the potholes to the City Services for faster repair. Mayor Garcetti talked about cell phone applications which allow drivers around Hollywood and Vine to locate available parking spaces, concluding that "If you are a tech company you must be in LA."
The keynote address was jointly provided by Ford marketing executive and director of Google Maps for business. Jim Farley said that, presently, connectivity is outside of the car industry, making non-compatibility dangerous. "Car and tech companies have to change," stated Mr. Farley, adding that Sync, a $200 option, significantly increased Ford sales. Tharun Bhatnagar of Google admitted navigating through L.A. with a computer in his lap. Google Maps provided guidance on 12 billion miles, and the company has been working with the car industry since 2005.
The first panel, moderated by Brian Cooley of CNET, grappled with the issue of compatibility. The information technology in the cars should be transparent, intuitive and constant. The principal problem lies in vastly different cycles of development of the mobile device makers who have the requisite expertise and desire to connect ever more with the drivers, and the car companies whose product cycles are long, and who seldom work with each other on standardization. Even if they did, the technology changes too rapidly with many players in the field. In addition, the problem of distracted drivers forces a cautious approach.
The segue was a panel moderated by John Quain of the New York Times on distracted driving. Bruce Mehler of MIT provided a valuable insight into data obtained through controlled testing on drivers' interaction with mobile technology. Voice controlled interfaces worked better than expected, but multiple steps involved in completing the task forced drivers to glance at the screen thereby distracting them. By measuring cognitive demands the scientists found that frequent cell phone users are more aggressive drivers, even when they are not on the phone. The panel concluded that the drives should be retrained not only to use the new systems (just as they had to learn anti-lock braking), but to become aware of their limitations.
The Big Data panel grappled with the convenience presented by the collection of data not only on the engine characteristics, but on driving patterns of everyday car users against rights to privacy. Predicting insurance risks based on the number of left turns (which are more dangerous than right turns) or driving after 10:00 p.m. when 30% of drivers have alcohol in their blood, can save the industry millions, but to what extent collection of such data intrudes on driver's right not to be snooped on by big business? A value to the consumer should be measured against the intrusion the panel concluded.
The logical progression of the conference led to the ultimate objective - the car that drives itself. The panelists, led by Joseph White of the Wall Street Journal disagreed whether such a vehicle could be autonomous, or would require recognition of the world around it to function properly.
At the end of the day, the Connected Car Expo raised many questions but provided few answers. The application of this brave new technology to our imperfect, old world is fraught with legal, ethical, cultural, moral, and many other issues which have to be resolved before proceeding forward. The principal problem is not whether we can do it, but to what extent we should. About the Los Angeles Auto Show and Connected Car Expo Founded in 1907, the Los Angeles Auto Show is the first major North American auto show of the season each year. Press Days for the 2013 LA Auto Show® will be held on Nov. 20 and 21. The show will be open to the public Nov. 22 – Dec. 1. The Connected Car Expo (CCE) will be the first expo to unite automotive and technology professionals in an effort to increase development and foster relationship-building in the connected car industry, providing attendees with access to the key players and top media constructing the future of the connected car. CCE will debut on Nov. 19, and continue in conjunction with the 2013 LA Auto Show Press Days. The LA Auto Show is endorsed by the Greater L.A. New Car Dealer Association and is operated by ANSA Productions. To receive the latest show news and information, follow LA Auto Show on Twitter at twitter.com/LAAutoShow or via Facebook at facebook.com/LosAngelesAutoShow and sign up for alerts at LAAutoShow.com. For more information on CCE please visit connectedcarexpo.com. For more on the LA Auto Show, see the LA Car report.