According to Gartner, a quarter of a billion connected cars will on the road by 2020. Each vehicle represents a market unto itself for the software developer. As the driving public becomes increasingly used to driving connected vehicles, they will have an increasing appetite for apps and platforms that keep them connected while on the go.
The potential for development opportunities is virtually unlimited, for the connected vehicle is but one component of a global IoT ecosystem. Smart homes, smart cities, cloud-based mobility service providers, and commercial transit make up a greater market for automotive IoT applications.
While we can only scratch the surface, let us take a look at five areas of opportunity for developers who want to help shape the future of the automotive industry.
Developer Opportunities in Connected Car IoT
Whether your target platform is the OEM infotainment system or a mobile device, the same markets generally exist for both. The connected car market wants apps that help drivers safely and efficiently get where they are going, keep them entertained, and help them stay connected while in their vehicle. The following list represents five types of apps that fill these needs.
1. Safety & Security
Safety and security apps include vehicle health applications, which generally involve using a OBD II dongle to access On-Board Diagnostic System information. They can also include apps that help keep the vehicle free from cyber attack, and that help keep the vehicle occupants safe.
Some apps that fit this category include the following:
- Preventative maintenance apps make drivers, fleet managers, or service personnel aware of performance issues before they become malfunctions.
Many PM apps are already on the market, but apps that explain vehicle issues in ways the consumer can understand are lacking.
- Real-time vehicle diagnostics can help pinpoint the cause of the failure if a breakdown has already occurred, so that repairs can be made quickly.
The need for apps that can help independent service shops to service non-warranty defects will increase, as the cost of dealer service continues to rise.
- Vehicle cyber security apps work behind the scenes to keep the vehicle safe from hackers. These apps help configure other applications to be more secure, and they monitor all data to and from the vehicle to ensure that security threats are identified and blocked. An important function of any automotive cyber security software is even logging, so the nature of threats and breaches can be later analyzed.
Much work is being done by OEMs and third-party security solutions providers to keep connected vehicles safe from cyber attack. One area that remains largely untapped is automated “white hat” security testing, which can help identify vulnerabilities in existing OEM and 3rd-party systems.
- Collision avoidance apps utilize a combination of tools to identify situations that can cause an auto accident. GPS, smartphone sensors, vehicle sensors, and even cloud-based data can be useful in identifying potential threats.
As connected cars become more connected with each other through V2V technology, the opportunity will grow for V2V-based collision avoidance apps to capture a piece of the market.
- Driver safety apps will soon be among the most popular. The concept behind these apps is to alert the driver if they are approaching dangerous road conditions or other threat, such as an area where an active shooter might be present.
To date, not much has been done to develop apps that tie into big data, let alone that provide real-time alerts to driver on criminal threats. Developers that can leverage big data with GPS features can, for awhile, create their own market.
2. Content & Service Providers
The vast majority of connected car apps will fall into this category. Although there is a huge variety of apps available for downloading, the five shown below are among the most popular.
- Navigation apps go beyond providing GPS maps, and offer extended guidance features. General traffic conditions, local attractions, dining and shopping recommendations, and local speed limits can augment the navigation information provided to the driver.
The market is ready for expanded navigation apps that include such features as identifying charging stations for electric vehicles, improved map accuracy, and V2V-based traffic information.
- Music apps are at the top of the list when drivers are asked what apps are important to them. Drivers want to be able to listen to their favorite music whenever and wherever they want.
Although iTunes is the most popular music service, there is plenty of room for apps that let drivers build their own playlists, use voice commands to search for songs, and that learn the driver’s preferences.
- Hands-free driving apps will become increasingly more popular, at least until fully-autonomous vehicles dominate the market. While most newer infotainment platforms provide voice command or steering wheel buttons to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel, there are still far too many reasons to take your eyes off the road.
A close examination of most apps on the market will reveal at least a few needs where the driver must interact with the vehicle’s touchscreen. Each time a driver needs to touch the screen while driving, there exist the need for a better app.
- Connected home technology is to the home what connected car technology is to the automobile — it simply provides Internet connectivity to common household devices such as lights, alarm systems, and appliances.
While there are many home automation systems on the market, the need exists for apps that integrate seamlessly with vehicle infotainment systems. Again, hands-free functionality is needed, so voice command and audible alerts are mandatory.
Commercial vehicle owners have the revenue and motivation to invest in technology that will improve safety and efficiency. While fleet management is not the only sector that can benefit from connected car IoT technology, it’s certainly at the top of the list, as you will see.
- Fleet management companies were among the first industries to embrace connected automobile technology. Feature-rich platforms exist by the score that help managers operate their fleets more efficiently and safer than ever before.
Although there is still room in the market for apps that support fleet management platforms, an untapped opportunity exists for apps that focus on fleet security — both from a cyberattack and physical attack perspective. As we mentioned earlier, the connected car security and driver safety market is booming, with growth potential for new products. What is needed in the fleet management industry are apps and platforms that focus solely on meeting the special security of connected fleets.
- User Based Insurance is becoming increasingly popular, especially among commercial vehicle owners. The ability to adjust premium cost based on driver behavior is particularly attractive to organizations with professional drivers.
Developers looking for niches in this new market need look no further than big data. By utilizing big data, along with predictive analytics, UBI platforms can be developed that rate driver risk not only on driving behavior, but on non-related data, as well.
For example, statistics indicate that situations such as divorce and the death of a loved one that cause heightened stress levels also increase the chances of an auto accident. If you can bring an app or platform to market that augment UBI with big data, you will capture your own slice of the red-hot UBI industry.
- Contractor apps have been around for years, and are among contractors’ most valuable tools. Apps that track mileage and travel time, and that even assist with job bidding are prolific. What is not so common are apps that utilize connected car technology to help contractor companies manage their crews.
Local municipalities are in the best position to help the connected car IoT system get off the ground. It is in individual cities that test markets will exist for developing vehicle IoT technology. Here are just a three ways governments must play a role in shaping the vehicle IoT ecosystem.
- Autonomous vehicles will never gain the full confidence of drivers and regulators until they have a proven track record. To date, the record isn’t so good. But we can’t blame the autonomous vehicle industry, entirely. Currently, autonomous vehicles navigate the streets with information obtained from GPS and on-board scene awareness technology. Not much has been done to make streets part of the automotive IoT system.
Self-driving cars need more than GPS and whatever onboard capabilities they may have to navigate safely. They need real-time information from traffic control systems and other infrastructure components. Slowly, the connected car ecosystem is coming together. As it does, there will be a pressing need for developers who can bridge automotive technology with infrastructure IoT data to help guide vehicle along their way.
- Traffic control systems currently rely on mechanical or optical sensors to track and analyze traffic patterns. As municipalities begin to invest in smart city technology, IoT-based traffic control systems will be among the first milestones. Platforms that capture traffic data from V2I and V2X networks will flourish as momentum in smart city technology builds. Along with it will be tremendous opportunities for onboard apps that both report to and receive data from IoT traffic systems.
- Safety alerts will be one of the benefits of smart cities. Smart sensors embedded in streets and bridges can send warnings to connected vehicles concerning icing or flooding conditions. Platforms and mobile apps that power this valuable service represent a market that will experience exponential growth in the years ahead.
5. IoT Infrastructure
Basically, the IoT infrastructure includes all IoT devices, from cars to smart sensors embedded in the streets to traffic control systems and beyond. We have already discussed a few parts of the IoT infrastructure, as it related to local governments. The IoT system, however, includes a vast array of devices and platforms that extend to nearly all sectors of society. Here are but a few of the opportunities IoT will provide developers in near future and beyond.
- IoT data centers will replace standard data centers as big data and IoT technologies merge. Apps and platforms that can exchange data between these centers, vehicles, and 3rd-party data consumers will thrive as well.
Development needs in this space are not as clearly defined as in others. However, the developer who knows how to funnel raw and aggregated data between users, and how to monetize the service, will write their own check.
- Cloud services that provide SaaS IoT data management are already onboarding clients across the globe. Both large and small companies will need someplace to store, analyze, and distribute the automotive IoT data that impacts their operation. Not only do such platforms provide a niche market for developers, but so do the mobile apps that provide a gateway to the connected vehicle.
- Blockchain technology will be used throughout the connected car IoT system to secure data. Blockchain involves encrypting data in a special way that makes unauthorized access virtually impossible. As data begins to flow to and from connected cars, the need for blockchain solutions to keep it secure will create a wide-open market for development.
How Ignite Can Help
Ignite provides world-class mobile app and automotive solutions for companies around the globe. We are experts in all aspects of mobile app development and automotive technology, with well-served clients large and small.
With six R&D labs spread across Western Europe, we are well positioned to be your outsource technology partner, regardless of your geographic location.
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