The hype cycle for the Internet of Things is in overdrive and attempting to knock big data off its perch as the top tech catchphrase.
I'm still not fully seeing why my Internet aware toaster will make my life better when it communicates with my Internet aware margarita maker. What I do see, however, is an open road to a world of self-driving Internet aware cars. I can't wait until mobile becomes motile.
With automobiles poised to be both mobile, motile and communicative, these soon to be self-directed communication vehicles may begin to transport people in ways beyond what we are familiar. Beyond transporting people from point A to point B, the cars of tomorrow will transport people into a new society. This type of transportation is beyond question, but what is still open is whether it is possible to achieve the same sort of transformation as smartphones have achieved.
The Future is an Open Road
Possibility number 1: Freedom for the hectic connected professional
How much does it annoy you to notice, schedule and complete routine car maintenance? Get ready for America's number one product to be leveraged for good use: laziness. What if your Internet aware and self-driving car not only knew every bit of it's operational health, it's maintenance schedule, released safety recalls and your preferences for maintenance facilities? It could schedule and complete whatever maintenance you approved without the need for a loaner vehicle (which few shops offer anyway), without a shuttle to and from work, without a waiting room full of people watching Divorce Court or reading us weekly, and without begging a ride from a co-worker or your equally busy spouse! Holy crap! That would be awesome!
Possibility 2: Your car as a hypermedia consumption device
I don't know if everyone does family road trips anymore, but I do know what it is like to have kids arguing over which movie or show to watch even when you are just driving to the corner store. Get ready for America's other leading product to go into overdrive — spoiled media obsessives. What if your Internet aware car was a Wi-Fi hotspot itself? If you could buy a car with a next generation high speed data subscription, you would be able to say goodbye to packing your kids DVD library into the car for road trips.
Tablets, e-readers, laptops would now be fully functional and only limited by the speed of the cellular network (which has not yet reached its plateau). No more need for mobile professionals to carry hotspot devices if cars are the hotspots themselves. Your car could have a kindle-like subscription to audio books without the need for actual media where you can listen to whatever audiobooks are in your library. No more swapping CDs while you are driving and no more clunky boxes of more than 20 CDs for unabridged epics like Game of Thrones. That would be so cool!
Possibility 3: A safer society (of course at the expense of privacy)
Amber alerts aren't exactly cool or awesome, but they are necessary given that America has its own stockpile of predators. If the majority of cars on the road become Internet aware, how does a predator escape the millions of mobile and connected eyes on each and every road in America? Imagine a child rescue force that can ping every blue Taurus, or every blue Taurus registered to a known sex offender or better yet, a specific car because someone saw the license plate at the time of an abduction.
How much easier will it be to fight crimes involving vehicles when he vehicles can communicate? Would "get away vehicles" have any possibility of succeeding when the majority of cars would have eyes as well as ears? Even if the car in question wasn’t connected, how many cars that surround it on the road would be? Could the connected cars, watch and report on the other cars? That would be powerful (and scary)!
Choosing Our Route
All of these ideas are within our reach. It’s up to us. The Internet professionals not only to envision and create them, but also to inspire those around us to the better (and cooler) society we can create. The inspiration is key not only to create the momentum, but also to give a guidepost that helps us navigate away from the inherent possibilities for abuse. A future rife with possibilities awaits us. We have only to key in the location and our cars of the future will take us there.
Title image by Blaz Kure (Shutterstock).