by Oddy Khamharn
Sr. Director of Automotive Sales and Product Planning at Chamberlain Group
I’ve been in this industry a long time; more than 30 years. I can say, without a doubt, the unparalleled resistance and perseverance our industry unfailingly exhibits when challenged with hardship is what has kept me captivated and motivated through the years. Even today as we face profound changes across the globe, look to understand and interpret risk, reconfigure supply chains and retool operating systems to safeguard essential employees and their families, our solutions oriented sector is quickly shifting into the new normal.
Even though we are living through the largest economic and production slow-down in human history, no one has taken a hint of a break in our world. All manufacturers, suppliers and partners that I have continued to collaborate and connect with are still driving innovations forward, investing in smart customizations and nurturing the health of the long-term and new relationships budding throughout.
And consumers haven’t slowed down either. Their “always on” connectivity routines are more prevalent than ever. Case in point: The time it takes for a consumer’s connected experience to move from novel to expected is rapidly shrinking. What might have seemed revolutionary even three years ago is now table stakes in their home environment — whether that means casually asking a voice assistant to check the weather, turn up your favorite playlist or adjust the thermostat from afar. And, as expectations around connectivity rise, consumers expect the brands around them to not only know their preferences, but to anticipate their next move. Connectivity is no longer enough. Consumers want predictive connectivity. And yes, we saw this coming.
This constantly connected era presents new opportunities and challenges for OEMs. The focus right now is on ramping up production again, creating alternative plant/facility safety guidelines and realigning supply chains. Running parallel to these efforts, the industry also faces continued lag in consumerism while addressing generational driving habits, rethinking ridesharing and car-sharing, accelerating autonomous driving, and implementing intelligent infrastructure.
OEMs are seeking both new business opportunities and new ways of doing business. At Chamberlain Group, we’re working hand-in-hand with OEMs and Tier 1 TSPs (Telematics Service Providers) to scan the horizon and create future-proof products and partnerships that anticipate drivers’ next moves, needs, wants and actions. Here are four shifts that are hitting automakers’ radar, right now.
1. THE 5G FACTOR
Autonomous vehicles may be years — even decades — away from becoming a mainstream reality. But connected cars are commonplace in the here and now, with more automobiles engineered with robust telematics, expansive infotainment stacks and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.
As a concept, V2X is nothing new: It’s been bandied about by OEMs for over a decade. Our own engineers continue to pour over all the possibilities. With the promise of 5G, the automation and scalability of the data needed for V2X will come to fruition.
It’s exciting to think about and sometimes tough to get your head around. I’ve used this example before when helping my friends and family (who are not living and breathing auto tech advancements) grasp a practical application for all this tech. Imagine an ambulance speeding down the road, sending an automatic beacon to nearby vehicles to alert them of its approach. Simultaneously, it is sending an automatic open to infrastructures such as gate openers and barrier arms at a gated community and even unlocking the front door of the home for this first-responder unit to enter. The use cases are endless, but you need massive data pipelines and speed to implement them.
Currently, most V2X uses cellular data, but the rollout of 5G networks would dramatically increase what features OEMs can integrate into connected cars, without fear of dangerous lag times or frustrating user experiences. And 5G is gaining ground, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. A late 2019 report found that 25 operators are involved in trials of LTE- or 5G-based C-V2X technologies. There are now eight pre-commercial and commercial automotive-grade modules supporting 5G or LTE for C-V2X, from seven different vendors.
With the rollout of 5G, the pace with which V2X features will be integrated into automobiles will surge. We’re anticipating that acceleration in the here and now. With myQ® Smart Vehicle Access, we’ve opened the door for OEMs and TSPs to seamlessly integrate in-vehicle communications with connected home technology, providing convenience and safety from inside the vehicle’s infotainment system. And that technology is personalized and persistent to the driver. This means a driver is then able to log on using their credentials and have all of their driving information and preferences synced to the vehicle automatically. That creates a frictionless experience for drivers who move between vehicles. Your settings, your apps, your personalized experience goes with you to any myQ-enabled vehicle. This will be a gamechanger if the car-sharing and car-subscription economy continues to flourish. Imagine the potential of a business model in which an OEM doesn’t just sell a single car to a driver every few years, but is actively involved in lending multiple vehicles to that same driver. For example, a driver may want to enjoy a sports car on the weekend or pick up a minivan when extended family is in town. myQ Smart Vehicle Access makes that a seamless experience for the consumer, and 5G makes it faster and more reliable.
2. PARTNERSHIPS APLENTY
The current state of collaboration between auto and tech is alive and well. Our industry wouldn’t be where it is today if that wasn’t the case. Thankfully, over the past decade, there’s been a dramatic convergence of automotive and tech, with cars evolving into something akin to computers on wheels. This creates huge opportunities for tech giants and start-ups alike to have a seat at the table with innovative OEMs developing novel features and applications — at a speed and quality far faster than if automakers were left to go it alone.
This collaboration uptick has been good news for the entire automotive ecosystem: technology companies are best poised to aggressively pursue the boundaries of tech innovation, OEMs can concentrate their resources around their deep industry expertise, and the consumer receives a product with more robust and fresh capabilities than would have been previously possible. Examples abound, but two recent partnerships that made industry waves include Byton and Viacom, which enables video streaming to a 48-inch wraparound digital dashboard screen.
We feel this same sense of camaraderie. Our work with OEMs and TSPs with the integration of myQ Smart Vehicle Access also creates a more robust feedback loop around consumer needs and interests. With tech innovations comes data and feedback, almost in real-time. As a partner to the auto industry, we’re able to surface insights from consumers, which can inform product development early and often. For example, from our own myQ cloud analytics, we know that the garage is heavily used daily — in fact garages are opened and closed more than 8.8 times in a 24-hour interval. When taking the entire market into account, garages are accessed almost half a million times a minute in the United States alone. That’s a lot of activity and supports why the garage is a vital component to connecting the vehicle to the home and how Chamberlain Group’s myQ Smart Vehicle Access is the only connective tech to accomplish it now.
3. EXPANDING THE BOUNDARIES OF INTELLIGENCE
OEM’s must be in-tune with the tidal shift underway. If smart and ubiquitous sensors were the first wave, now higher cellular speeds and the widespread deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) is giving birth to a wider range of products that rely on more intelligent machine learning. In other words, the “Internet of Things” is indeed evolving into the “Intelligence of Things (IoT).”
This term reminds us all to think beyond the device, think bigger than the gadget itself. We need to think about scale, predictive intelligence and whether those “gadgets” help to seamlessly connect all aspects of the consumer’s expectations once they take their place in the driver’s seat. To build future-ready, intuitive solutions, OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers must think beyond an individual sensor or screen and approach the driving experience — and the bridge between car and home — as a rich tapestry of potential connectivity.
For example, when we launched myQ Smart Vehicle Access, we knew that we had the only software to identify the state of the garage door (open or closed) and vehicle presence inside the garage through our Intelligent Door State™ monitoring. By knowing the state of the door and the presence of the vehicle, OEMs can remove the risk of a user accidentally remote-starting a car with the garage door still closed.
The state of the door (whether it’s open or closed) as well as the vehicle’s location (inside or outside of the garage) is identified through the myQ cloud and our proprietary algorithms. So, when a user starts their vehicle by using their OEM app on their phone, the action will instantaneously communicate with the OEM’s cloud, which then communicates with the myQ cloud. If a car is in the garage with the door closed, the user receives an alert from their OEM app notifying them that it’s unsafe to start the car.
This was so important for us to spearhead for the industry because not all connectivity is a straight line. Take something as simple as remote start and keyless ignition, which is now standard in more than half of the vehicles sold in the U.S. each year. Earlier this year, I wrote about this very topic “Innovating and Evolving to Ensure Safety Remains a Top Priority.” And, unfortunately, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a motor vehicle either mistakenly started or unknowingly left running in the garage while the door is closed has become more common due to keyless ignition and remote starts.
myQ imbues the entire garage with greater intelligence. It is these shifts that also serve the consumer and industry as necessary safety checks to mitigate human error colliding with IoT innovations.
4. INTELLIGENT HOME TO IN-VEHICLE SOLUTIONS
We can extend and connect to anything these days, but when it comes to the driver’s experience behind the wheel, it’s still critical to align with the driver’s daily routine — coming and going from home. In fact, more than 70% of Americans enter their home not by way of the front door, but through the attached garage. It’s the ultimate transition space, and OEMs that can capitalize on the connectivity potential will capture greater consumer engagement and satisfaction.
Consider how myQ Smart Vehicle Access combines intelligent geofencing to create a seamless experience for the driver. As the driver approaches home, the vehicle signals arrival to the garage. Intelligent schema behind the scenes mean the technology can understand the difference between merely driving on a side street nearby and actually slowing down on the driver’s block. Unlike other garage door openers which send a simple toggle signal to the door — potentially closing the door upon arrival, if another family member has it open — myQ Intelligent Door State™ is able to read the true state of the door and sync with the desired state, opening it only if it’s currently closed. The driver pulls in or — if it’s a tight squeeze — is able to exit the vehicle in the driveway and walk inside, leaving the car to safely park itself. The interior door to the home is already unlocked and the lights are on.
The driver’s sense of relief and repose at arriving home isn’t delayed until they’re through that door and have flipped all the lights on. Instead, that serenity starts when they’re still in the car, because they know the transition will unfold seamlessly. We’ve bridged the security and personalization of the home and car by creating a frictionless, user-centric experience. That’s a win for any OEM. And, as an electrical engineer who’s also an auto enthusiast and technologist at heart, I consider it a win for every potential driver on the road.