S07E06 - The Connected Car

This week the team discuss the impact mobile technology will have on our relationships and use of cars. Discussions quickly move from in-vehicle entertainment to look at ways vehicle data could usefully be provided to drivers even before they get in a car. Options for personalisation are also considered - if cars can access data about our movement and preferences how could they further adapt to our needs?

Special guest Ilicco Elia from (our generous studio hosts) DigitasLBi joins to describe some of the issues and opportunities his team are examining through work with vehicle manufacturers bringing connected vehicles to the market.


Ben: Hello and welcome to the 361 Degrees Podcast, Season 7, Episode 6.  My name is Ben Smith from Wireless Worker.

Rafe: I’m Rafe Blandford from the All About sites.

Ewan: I’m Ewan from Mobile Industry Review.

Ben: Welcome back, Gents.  Good to see you.  Hello, hello, hello.  We had a week off last week.

Ewan: We were, yes, that was required.

Ben: Who’s fault was that?

Rafe: That was my fault. 

Ben: You went to Iceland.

Rafe: I did go to Iceland.

Ben: What were you doing in Iceland?

Rafe: Walking on glaciers, getting excited about volcanoes and…

Ben: Did you go in one of those pits, mud pit things?

Rafe: I did.

Ben: Did you have any wrestling?

Rafe: Yeah, a thermal spring halfway up the mountain; on one side you’ve got glassy water, on the other side you’ve got a hot spring from a geothermal system.  Mix them together it’s just like sitting in the bath.

Ben: Wow, fair enough.  You’ve completely ruined all my frozen food supermarket jokes, right, by having actual facts.  I had three mum’s gone to Iceland gags lined up.  You people, I’ve only got one opportunity to laugh at this podcast once a week.  It’s good to see you.  Have you any news apart from having been away, Rafe Blandford?

Rafe: I don’t think I have got any news, because I’ve been away Ben, exciting.  I can mock Ewan for wearing a Smart watch after you said he wasn’t …

Ewan: No, mock me.

Ben: Is that a watch?

Rafe:   He said he wasn’t interested in them.

Ben: I genuinely thought he could …

Ewan: Really?  When did I say that?

Ben: I genuinely thought he’d gaffer-taped a television to his arm.

Ewan: It’s not true.  This is the LG, G3 accompaniment.  It’s the G3, no-no LG watch.  LG watch, yes.  I think it’s really cool.

Rafe: For everyone that’s wondering, that’s one of the new Android wear …

Ewan: Thank you.

Rafe: Smart watches, and it’s going alongside your new LG G3 handset as well.

Ewan: It is, thanks very much and I’m really impressed with it.  It’s working nicely.

Rafe: I was being shot with a laser earlier.

Ewan: Yeah, yeah rocking.

Ben: That’s because it’s got laser focusing, hasn’t it?

Rafe: With the all-clear folks, and we can wear it.

Ewan: It’s actually … I think it’s a sleeper hit.  I think they’ll sell millions, right?  I mean millions upon millions.  It’s not an S5 certainly, I think, but I love it.  I’ve only had a day of it, but I really like the work that LG had put into it.

Ben: The new, shiny syndrome hasn’t worn off yet?

Ewan: No, but my wife has got the … I bought her the HTC 1M8 also as an experiment, so we’re both going to use Android phones for the next week and see how we get on.

Ben: When the marriage breaks down that would be one of the many reasons to get cited.

Ewan: We can cite it, yes.  Also I have a kid …

Rafe: At least he will behave, yeah?

Ewan: Cleaning the shed last, oh yes I did.

Ben: Sorry?

Ewan: I cleaned the shed out, that was good.  You asked for news.

Ben: I did.

Ewan: I sorted out the garage, and I’ve done the grass.  I’ve put that stuff on the grass; what’s that kind of weed kind of things?

Ben: Round Up?

Ewan: Yeah, yeah from that.

Ben: Right.  I’m so glad that we’ve taken 15 thousand people’s time to explain that to them.

Ewan: You did ask, and this is … It is character definition.

Ben: I am regretting it now.  You haven’t asked me about my weekend?

Rafe: What about you, Ben.  Have you have got any interesting news to share?

Ewan: What are you doing with that?

Rafe: Apart from the fact you are carrying around some retro phone there.

Ben: I’ve bought myself a Palm Pre to play with, and I love it.

Ewan: What, you’ve paid money for it?

Ben: I bought it secondhand.

Ewan: All right, okay.  Why?

Ben: Because I wanted to look at Web OS, so I really …

Ewan: Okay, why?

Ben: Because I’m interested in some of the ways that some of the design decisions in it are actually now showing up in other operating systems.

Ewan: Right, yes, yes.  It was a really good rating.

Ben: The cars, the UI.

Ewan: Yeah, yeah.

Ben: It’s one of those things where I look at it and I think, “It’s amazing software let down by terrible hardware.”  Where actually a lot of the rest of the time I’m looking at the hardware and thinking, “I quite like the hardware.” Like your G3 for example.

Ewan: Yes, yes.

Ben: You pick it up and you think, “Oh this is a nice bit of hardware” and then you go, “Oh God it’s got Android on it.”

Ewan: Yeah, exactly.

Ben: Let down by terrible software.

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: So if only you could take … If only HP could have put the two together, it would have been interesting.  This is truly, truly awful plastic hardware, but the software is fantastic.  Only £30 it cost me.

Ewan: For this?

Ben: A 3G phone.

Ewan: It’s still worth it, you know?

Ben: Yeah, so I’m just playing with it, but I think it’s great.  I actually think it’s going to be a real timepiece as well.  It’s going to be one of those important devices that never made it, but shifts the way people thought about it.

Rafe: I mean it did have that lovely advertising campaign that caused more nightmares than any other mobile advertising campaign I can think of.

Ewan: Well it’s nice for an advertising campaign other than Samsung’s to give you nightmares, because they’re pretty wacky as well.

Rafe: Well that’s true.

Ben: Ewan McLeod, what are we going to talk about?

Ewan: We’re going to talk about the future of mobile technology.  I know that’s a very broad crush.

Rafe: Brilliant, can we just identified it a little more.

Ewan: Just now back down in the next 30 minutes we’ll be done.  There is no Season 8, kids because …

Rafe: Yeah, that’s it, we’re done.

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: Yeah.

Ewan: Yeah.  We have a very special guest, his name is Illico Elia.

Illico: Yes.

Ewan: He is the guy that runs DigitasLBi Mobile Division.

Illico: Yes.

Ewan: We’ve asked him here to talk about technology elements including future of mobile and how big brands are using this technology.

Ben: Illi, welcome to the show.

Illico: Thank you.

Ben: Given I was paying more attention in the tutorial meeting than Ewan, perhaps we can talk a little bit about connected cars and vehicles, and the way that mobile is going to change the way we interact with those things.  Because we’ve had a bit of a chat before, and I was amazed at some of the work you guys are doing here on vehicles and connectivity. 

We thought it might be interesting to talk about that.  Also perhaps a bit to think about the future, because you guys don’t just build things for customers now, but you do that big picture stuff, don’t you? About what things could be like in the future.

Illico: Yeah, the big picture stuff is really important, obviously, but for us it’s really what we define as, “What’s next?”  We’re not trying to get people or brands to just think about what they can do today, but what’s next and what they need to prepare for.

Ben: Okay, so we were talking before about how actually the way that cars and mobile tech are integrating with each other is a really great example of how loads of different industries are going to have to deal with the challenge of mobile technology.  Just as far as you can, because you do loads of secret stuff, just run us down some of the stuff that you’re doing, or are thinking about at the moment in terms of mobile devices and vehicles.

Illico: Well what we’re thinking about at the moment is how will your mobile phone interact with your car?  How will your mobile phone allow you to interact with your car? How will your car give you maximum information that’s going to be interesting for you to use?  In the same way you talk about your quantified self …

Ben: There’s a lot to quantify.

Illico: If you … You all obviously have smart phones and smart watches now, it’s catching up with the craze.  It’s interesting that there’s a lot of data that people are classing about themselves.  Your car is also now just another thing that has a lot of data that you can use, or potentially use.  We’re trying to work out what is the way you can use that data. 

Ben: A lot of people will think that like mobile-enabled cars, or car-enabled mobiles, or whichever way around you want to put it.  It will be about the entertainment system in the vehicle.  That is the case, but it’s broader than that, isn’t it?

Illico: Yeah, that’s definitely one area.  There’s three or so consortiums that are around these days, that Apple or Google, and mirror link are all trying to get into the, “How do we use your phone?  How do you entertain yourself whilst you’re in the car?”  There’s also the other side of it which is all of the data that your car produces, there’s a lot of electronics in a car; especially electric cars as well.

Ben: Yeah.

Illico: How would you use that data? What would you use that data for?  If I knew that my tires were going flat, would that enable me to drive better?  Would that enable me to get to the garage quicker, or should it enable me to get to the garage quicker?

Ben: Where is all this going?  You know, that’s short cut straight to the end.  Where do you foresee the intersection of mobile devices and vehicles?

Illico: Well that’s exactly it, there’s a complete ecosystem now with anything that can give you data, we’ll give it to you via your phone and allow you to act upon that data.  It’s actionable data rather than just big data, if that makes sense.

Ben: Can you give us a couple of real-world examples?

Illico: For example, knowing that you’re about to leave the house, or you’ve just walked out the front door, your phone can start the air conditioning in your car.  Knowing that you’re approaching your car, it can obviously unlock the door for you.  It now will know your next meeting.  Know how long it’s going to take you to get to that next meeting.  Tell you what route to take because it’s either quicker, or it goes past your favorite coffee shop. All of those things are enabled by the fact that you have a cloud connection, that data connection.  Your phone that knows you, and that’s the critical part about it, and then your car that talks to your phone.

Ben: Because I get really frustrated when I get in my car and the dashboard lights up with things that says, “Bring me to the garage for service” or “Your tire’s gone flat.  You’re running out of fuel” or I’ve got Sat-Nav in the vehicle that tells me where there’s traffic jams.  You get in the car, you turn it on and you say, “Take me to work” and it goes, “You’re going to be late” because you should have set off 20 minutes ago, because there’s a traffic jam.

Illico: Yeah, so the right information at the right time, with the right context, will enable you to then action it basically.

Ben: The trouble is though that how do we get that data out of my vehicle?  Right now my car is on my driveway, turned off.  It’s connected to nothing.

Illico: Behicles of the future, or vehicles of the next year or so are going to have a SIM basically that allow them to talk to the cloud, which you are then connected by your phone.

Ben: Essentially now cars are just another accessory I connect to my phone?

Illico: Almost.

Ben: Almost, you were hedging there.

Illico: Yeah, whether it’s an accessory or whether it’s actually just part of an ecosystem.  I’ve not made up my mind yet whether which element is more important than the other element.  I think they’re both as important with each other at the moment.

Ben: Certainly, car companies are going to be on my phone.

Illico: Yeah.

Ben: I know they’re going to be ... That’s apps, presumably?

Illico: For me that’s the most important part about it.  The fact that previously a car’s brand will manifest itself by the car you’re driving.

Ben: Yeah.

Illico: Whereas actually in the future I think the car’s brand will manifest itself much more in the apps that you will use in and outside of your car.  You will interact with that car manufacturer’s brand many more times, many more often.  Doing many more things because of the applications in the websites and the things that you do on your phone that enable you then to drive your car somewhere.

Ben: This is at the moment some of the brands that are adopting this earliest?  Actually this is about why I’m saying that, it’s terrible grammar, but some of the brands that are adopting these opportunities are the guys making electric vehicles. 

Primarily because there’s far more data that you need to know at this stage perhaps planning your route, because of reduced range, or needing to know battery status, or maybe even just because people who are buying electric cars are early adopters.  This isn’t going to be a big category, this is going to be a fundamental change in the way you interact with vehicles?

Illico: Absolutely fundamental.  I think the reason that the electric cars are adopting this first, it’s much more because of the lifecycle of the car manufacturing process.  Those are the ones that are being recently thought from scratch, as it were, as opposed to a nice internal combustion engine car customer.  It’s a bit of a weird way of putting it, but if somebody buys a normal that would be today, that car has been thought about many, many years ago before the mobile revolution.  There’s a time and space for that.

Ben: Dream big, paint the picture many years from now and tell me what my experience of using a vehicle is going to be like? 

Illico: It all stems around how well your phone knows you.  It is how the amount of data that your phone will know about you.  How much you trust your phone would enable you to make better decisions about where you need to go, how you need to get there, and what time you need to leave. 

Waking up in the morning, if you live in a hot climate, your car will turn its air conditioning for you.  As you walk out the door, your electronic key for your door will be activated by your phone.  It will know that you’ve entered your car because it knows you’re going on a long journey.  It will basically give you the information at the right time that you need to be able to make all the decisions you need to do, to get you to the right place.

Ben: Some of that actually sounds like not stuff that I am going to configure.  I’m not going to go into the …

Illico: Oh yeah, most definitely …

Ben: By the time I’m going to use that car app and say, “I’d like to have my car to be cool in the mornings at 8:30.” This is because my phone will know my travel, I mean like Google does now.  It tracks my travel patterns where I go regularly, it knows my habits.  It’s actually going to be a flow of information from me as well.

Illico: Yeah, in the same way that Google Nest knows how hot you like your house when you come home in the evening, and therefore over a period of time learns what you like.  It learns how to deal with the time that you come home; when to turn the central heating on so that the house is at the temperature you want when you get home.  It’s learning that stuff about you, it’s very much passive.  Back in the day, and I’m old enough to remember, that you only go to the internet basically …

Ewan: You are.

Ben: Yeah.

Illico: Thank you.  Where Yahoo said that their personalized home pages were used by 10% of their customer base. 

Ewan: Yeah.

Illico: People who come back to the personalized homepage, once they personalized it, it was about 10% of that 10%.  Only 1% of people were actually positively personalizing their homepages, whereas …

Ben: It is too much effort.

Illico: It is way too much effort for the sort of return that you get.  Whereas now, Google Nest learns about you and does it all passively; that will help them learn more about you because you’re doing it naturally. 

Ben: I love services that give me benefit for no effort.  You know it, before the recording we were talking about services like Trippy and things like that, which isn’t really related to vehicles, but it just sits there passively gathering data in the way of letting it see my emails.  It kind of makes the experience, when I actually get to the airport better.  I presume that it would be the same kind of an experience for a vehicle.

Illico: Yeah, exactly.  I think what’s going to be more challenge for brands is for them to step in front of the aggregator.  A lot of people are now saying things like Google Now is the first point of call to let me know that my airplane is delayed.  Is that really Google’s core expertise? Being able to know what to do with the data absolutely is, but surely the airlines are the first to know whether your plane is delayed and they should be telling you by way of their application.

Ben: I know you are working on this stuff, we won’t name brands now.  I know you’re working on this stuff for some motor manufacturers.  How long do you think it would be before I, the consumer, start to see this stuff popping up in the kind of products I could buy in the U.K.?

Illico: I don’t think I can answer that question. 

Ben: See?  I was going to …

Illico: Sooner than you think. 

Ben: There we go.  I was thinking next week.  Illi thanks very much.  A good time, much appreciated. 

Illico: Thank you.

Ben: If people are interested to find out a little bit more about what LBi does in mobile generally, and obviously you are also our generous hosts for 361 recording studios.  Where can they come and find out a bit more information?

Illico: Our website, digitaslbi.com.  D-I-G-I-T-A-S-L-B-I dot com.

Ben: Illi, thanks for your time.

Illico: Thank you.

Ben: Okay, Gents. Cars and apps are going to be connected.  It’s the future; we’ll start engaging with our vehicles before we leave the house and car companies are going to become big presences on our mobile phones.  What do you reckon? 

Ewan: Discuss.

Ben: Discuss.

Ewan: Yes, listen I was looking for a Volvo.

Ben: I’m sorry to hear that.

Ewan: Yeah, right the other day.  I was having a look on the website and there is a thing called this Sensus UI that does Spotify.  We have to put a little USB stick into the glove box.  If you go and buy a Volvo, I think the new range this year, and I think from last year actually, all of the Sensus stuff.  It’s not where I’d like it to be, and it’s not what Illico was talking about just here. 

This is the very, very, very first version of it, but I’m really drawn to the fact that I could potentially get some of my podcasts and music onto my car without having to mess around in the apps.  I mean I like the fact that we’re being embedded there and then, so that’s a real attraction to me right now.

Ben: Although I listen to lots of podcasts in media and stuff, but I tend to just stream it all off my phone via Bluetooth.  I don’t use any of the car’s tuner, CD player …

Ewan: Because you can’t.  I gather it doesn’t offer that capability, right?

Ben: Even if I want to listen to a bit of music and I own a CD, and I’ve got it on iTunes synched to my phone, I’ll just listen to it off my phone because my phone is that central place where I know just everything is.

Ewan: I suppose I’m still worrying over the battery, frankly.

Ben: True.  I mean we have two cars in our house.  I know it’s just showing off now, but one of them is a BMW one. You can go and you can sit it in the car and insert all your CDs and it will copy it to the car’s hard disk.

Rafe: Oh, that’s pretty cool.

Ben: Which is fine if I wanted to spend an entire weekend sitting in the driveway punching it in.

Rafe: People actually have to do that.  That’s quite amazing isn’t it?  You have to kind of sit there with your CDs.

Ben: As you said, it’s not all about entertainment, Rafe.  Some of the stuff that he was talking about reminded me of they start up in San Francisco.  I think the name of it is Automatic.  There’s a little gizmo you plug into the car’s data port, and it’s a Bluetooth gizmo that connects to your phone, it gives you loads of data.  I’m wondering if they’re kind of trailblazing the way for meaning that your phone is your dashboard into your car rather than the dashboard.

Rafe: Yeah, that’s right.  I mean there’s probably a helpful distinction to draw for the benefit of the listeners.  The IVI systems, which is the In-Vehicle-Infotainment; that’s the idea of replicating your phone screen up onto the head unit, up onto the dashboard. 

Ben: This is the Apple CarPlay.

Rafe: That’s Apple CarPlay.  It’s the Genevieve alliance to a certain extent; a mirrored link which actually came out of Nokia’s terminal mode, and then the most recently announced Android automotive.  All of those are essentially putting the brains of your smartphone up onto the dashboard, and that can be for navigation.  Most of it’s certainly about entertainment in one form or another. 

There’s a lot of car systems that already have those kind of apps on there, but as we kind of hinted at they haven’t been very good.  This second component is actually the intelligence that sits in the car ready and people aren’t properly aware just how much computing power there is in cars today.  You’ll get a hint of it when you go to the garage and they’ll plug in a diagnostic box and be able to take off all kinds of data. 

There’s probably more computing power in the car than most people would realize, and a whole network and sensors.  That’s a bit what we’re talking about, and the startup you’re talking about takes advantage of some of that.  There’s a system called ODB2, which you can plug a Bluetooth sensor and pull off that data.  Of course, the point here like I made, was actually the data in itself is not irrelevant.  It’s just being able to start doing interesting things to make the driving experience more seamless. 

It’s like everything else in mobile.  Mobile is going to be that digital home, or that heartbeat and it’s going to interact with lots of other things.  It’s the idea also of mobile being a second suite.  It’s not that it’ll be the first suite and control your home.  Electricity meters in the home, that idea of Smart Home. 

What’s important when we’re looking at the future is not just getting that data, because that’s kind of interesting.  Gates had a certain amount of interest in that, and so they’re having an enhanced dashboard.  It’s when the consumer has an easier time using their car or doing something, and it might be about maintenance and service.  It might be about the everyday journey. 

The challenge is actually creating those in a way that works on your phone or say the machine that connects the cars up and the similar, is again the enabler.  I think it’s probably going to take longer than people realize to get those experience crafted to the point where they become commonplace and accepted.

Ben: Actually that’s precisely the point I was just thinking about, Ewan, because Illi was saying that your car will start to do stuff smartly, because it’s going to learn about you through your mobile phone.  I was thinking, “Oh that sounds really cool.”  Then I was thinking, “Actually I’d really want that to be trustworthy data.”  I don’t want any guesses because a bit on that I don’t have a Nest, and one of the reservations I have about it is that if it gets it wrong I have a massive heating bill. 

It’s not like my phone where it runs out of juice.  It does like just stuff and it runs out of juice.  It used to cost me data, it doesn’t anymore because I’ve gone on an unlimited plan.  It’s literally every mistake you make could cost you money and the same with the vehicle.  You could damage the battery by running it on battery for too long.  It could cost you fuel, or it could make you late.  These are beginning to be like financially important decisions.

Rafe: I think you’ll need to be there, the manufacturers need to be rather careful.  I think we need to get to, as we were discussing earlier, the methodology of how Google Now is working.  In that Google Now will look at your data and present stuff to you nicely, and you can choose upon that rather than making decisions for you.

Ben: I’m not a big user of Google Now, but if I can pull it out … The other day I pulled it out of my pocket and just flipped it up to see what’s happening here, and it said, “Your journey home will be two hours.”  Well I’m not even in the place you say I’m in, and it wouldn’t be two hours anyway, so it was just completely wrong. 

Ewan: Whereas if I looked at my watch right now it’ll tell me precisely the information I want, it was really quite useful.

Ben: I guess I’m not saying that it can’t be useful at some point.  What I’m saying is it’s wrong, and often enough, so I wouldn’t want my car to not tell me I’m going to run out of fuel on the basis of it thinking I was somewhere I wasn’t.

Rafe: You covered earlier about how you don’t want it to do wrong things.  I think you have to have a bit of faith in the car manufacturers and the cars.  Actually that stuff goes on all the time right now in terms of safety and not overcharging your battery and all that kind of thing. 

Ben: Don’t you think that’s why they’re so cautious they don’t actually do any of this stuff, because effectively it’s just too hard?

Rafe: There’s an element of that, but I think that can be overcome.  I actually think the bigger problem is trying to deliver all of it at once, and the idea that you’ll have this, we would describe it as the perfectly integrated system.  As you come out your car door, the air conditioning comes on and it unlocks and everything.  If one bit of that breaks, or it doesn’t work out properly, people will get frustrated.

            A good example of this might be you get in the car and the radio turns on because it knows you always like to listen to the radio.  What it didn’t account for is that someone got in the passenger side and sat on the passenger seat, and actually you want to talk to them.  You don’t want the radio on and that becomes frustrating.

Ewan: Come on, that’s a first-world problem there.

Rafe: That sort of thinking, it is to an  extent …

Ewan: Okay then go switch off radio. 

Rafe: There’s that kind of thinking it needs to be very competent if you’re talking about the whole, which is why to start with it’s going to be relatively small individual bits of this vision.  Actually the obvious one is unlocking as you approach it, because that kind of proximal sensing is something that’s pretty easy to do.  There are already systems that actually do that.  The key in this ignition allows you to do that too from your phone.  It just makes a bit more sense.

Then the things about climate control.  Again, they already do that based on the person getting into the car.  They can do that off the key, but doing it from your phone and then maybe offering an element of customization on top of that is interesting.

As you say there, actually the most interesting is extending it outside the car to do and make decisions about your car when you’re not sitting in it.  Because it’s connected it can get necessary information and it can then actually send stuff back to the car and have it all ready to go next time. 

I think the one that we’ll see most often to begin with is actually a simple navigation one.  In that I’m planning to go to X.  When you get in the car that then would already be pre-entered and you’ll be able to drive straightaway, and it’ll pop up.

Ben: Some systems do offer that already but it’s like a proprietary integration, isn’t it.  There’s with Google maps you can do, “Send to my car” but you’ve got to have the connected car deal.  You’ve got to have a system that Google integrates with and then that …

Rafe: That’s right, and that’s where the seamlessness comes in, and where I think having your car expressed as an app on your phone makes a lot of sense because people kind of understand that when you want to do something with your car you go to that app.  You can set the destination. 

That may well tie in to the platform mapping solution, or it may be something a little bit different.  That also starts becoming interesting when you’re doing route planning, it might be able to tell you about certain things along the way, or petrol.  You know you’re doing your daily commute, and it knows you’ve got enough petrol to get there and back.  You’ll fill up on the way back.  If you’re going for a longer journey it might recommend that you start filling up near a petrol station, or if you do it around pricing and that kind of thing.

Ben: Pricing, that’s the one, because …

Ewan: Is it? Come on can we think a little bit further on, boys?  This is a little bit boring.

Ben: Well you start off with pricing today, that’s the useful one. 

Ewan: Oh, come on.  No, fill the car up for me.  I’m wondering can we tell them a few steps here. 

Ben: The next thing then surely when you get a …

Ewan: A little guy from Shell arrives, fills the car up, and I don’t have to think about it. 

Ben: Presumably we’ll have to go on petrol cars in the future.

Ewan: Right.

Ben: If I veer around, I’m driving to somewhere, it’s going to point out to me the nearest compatible charging station on the roadside from my vehicle.  It’s going to be, if we’re not planning where I’m going to park near my destination so I could hook it up to a charging point.  If I’m doing a really longer journey and I need to recharge my vehicle …

In the future you can say, “There will be a charging point in every parking space” but in the meantime there might be hydrogen cars, there might be electric cars, there might be petrol cars all on the road together.  It’s not just around finding the cheapest fuel, it’s “Where’s the filling station with the right converter, the right nozzle, the right type of fuel, the cartridges that my vehicle uses.”

Ewan: You keep on saying, “I-I-I” both of you are saying I-I-I.  My view is I should be removed from it.  Right?  The vehicle is a utility, someone else should manage that for me. 

Ben: That’s the interesting next point I suppose.  It’s that I’m thinking about a car as something that I’ve gone out and bought and own, as I do today.  It’s my car and I have to look after it.  I suppose in the U.K. we have ZipCar, what’s the service I the States?

Ewan: They have a Zip Car in the States, yes.

Ben: It is, so the car can then sort of parked there and now perhaps could vehicles become a utility where the brand is actually accessed to lots of vehicles?

Rafe: Certainly, when you talk to futurists that is one model of how personal transportation will work in the future.  It gets really interesting when you tie it into the multimodal stuff, that you use a combination of personal vehicles and then public transport.  Obviously when you’re in a big city it makes sense to use public transport, but you then go out to an outerlying node and you might swap to what we think is a car.  It’s all the drive of this stuff.  I have to say that’s a bit further away, but some of the stuff we’re talking …

Ewan: No, it’s not.  Come on it’s not further.  You are being boring again.  Further away is like 50 years’ time.

Rafe: The thing is if you talk about boring because you are always interested in the kind of not what’s next, you’re actually in the what’s next after the “what’s next.”

Ewan: No, because we’re not far away from it.  If you go out and lease a car in a minute, if you’re going to hire a car at the moment, that’s a utility for you.  Still yours, right?  Still yours, you can still do …

Rafe: It is, but …

Ewan: You can still put your little dice on it.

Rafe: You’re in a hired car, and you may well be able to setup all the settings; your preferred seat position, your climate control, your own music and all of that.  With any mobile technology, any mobile service you’re talking about, if it’s going to take a truly mass adoption, it actually needs to make life simpler and easier in some way.  There’s plenty of things about the car experience that aren’t particularly convenient …

Ewan: Right so I don’t have to think about … Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t to think about fuel and they brought it to me.  As of fuel at the minute, and then electricity is just brought to me, or someone else charged it.  Someone else worried about the utility.  Why do you, Ben, have to worry about your tires?  Because you physically own the vehicle at the moment. 

Rafe: That’s a classic time cost tradeoff for most people that don’t mind filling it up, the cars, because they actually do ancillary things at a petrol station.  If you’re going to be all future-spelled, actually probably the majority of parking bays will have wireless charging with pads underneath and probably even built into the roads as well.  If we’re talking about what’s going to happen to fueling, actually that’s probably going to go away if we’re looking 10, 20 years down the road.

Ben: For me the time when mobile will play the interesting part is before you get there, because that’s where the part of the service needs to be highly personalized to me; the vehicle, the conditions, that kind of stuff.  When you get to that point where while it’s charging it’s completely ubiquitous, I don’t need to do any planning anymore, because every point just charges it up and I never think about it again.  Maybe the only notification I get is, your batter is done 20 thousand cycles.

Rafe: That’s actually right because there’s a lot of times you go before we arrive in the future.  It’s the modification.

Ben: Now, can I just call … That is a quote of the series.  Let’s just clue up on that mate.  There is a long time to go before we arrive in the future.

Rafe: Say something else, Ewan Mcleod.

Ewan: I’m sorry but it’s just this idea is it’s really exciting to talk about what’s next.  In order to get there, it’s actually a change from what you have now, and that is a process that happens gradually.  When you look at things like most people most quickly, it’s actually small changes from what we have now.  I love the idea of driving those cars, and I love the idea of personal vehicles being shared, because it makes a lot of sense.  Do I think it’ll happen?  Probably not because the car is still an item.

Rafe: Well what about sort of scribing to Volvo?

Ewan: I’d like that idea, but it’s too …

Rafe: We’re not far away, no we’re not far away from that at all.

Ewan: It’s a big dramatic shift from where we are now.  If you look at any trend you’ll find there’s a continuum that you move through from one to the other.  Cars are actually the perfect example.  People used to walk, they used to take trains and public transport.  They still do.  They used to get on a horse, and all of that kind of thing.  They didn’t suddenly …

Rafe: Like the minding of the studio it’s of top quality this way.

Ewan: They didn’t suddenly switch, and we’re not suddenly going to switch to this new future.  There’s plenty in between to make better. I’ve just mangled my grammar just like Ben’s style there, thank you.

Ben: Thank you.  Just to interrupt you, because we’re running out of time.  Actually something you said reminded me, which is again the intermediate step is the interesting one, because in the States if you buy an electric BMW vehicle, one of their either hybrids or the I3, you can also subscribe to a plan whereby you can go to the dealership and swap it for a petrol vehicle for occasions when the electric one isn’t sufficient.

            It’s not them coming to deliver it for you, it’s something that you plan and you have to book, all that kind of stuff. The mobile device would be a great way to do that because you could know that the vehicle was available for you, it’s there.  It’s fueled up, ready to go.

Rafe: That’s not in 20 years time, that’s happening now, bloke.

Ewan: This is what’s so exciting about mobile, it’s a very powerful transformative tool.  We talk about transformative in business terms as something like Halo or Oober.  Actually it can be transformative for the way humans behave.  We’ve already talked about it this series with content consumption and the way it’s changed the way we’ve all consumed content. 

            Now, we’ve already seen it start to change the way we do transport.  If you think about the way you move around London, you’d probably do that using a combination of maps and public transport planning. 

Rafe: City mapper.

Ewan: City mapper, that’s very different to 10 years ago.  Now we start thinking of applying that to the personal vehicle.  The first thing that it’s going to do is kind of personalize the vehicle for you and put functions in the car out, access from outside it.  Then I think it probably does have the potential to change consumer behavior in the way we regard cars, because for want of a better word, it could be the Halo-ization, or the Oober-ization of your car transport.  Is that possible with mobile?  Absolutely.  How will we get there?  That’s the interesting discussion.

Ben: The dream of the connected vehicle, but we’re all in agreement it’s going to happen.  We think Illi is right on that score.  How do you envisage the connected car as your ideal connected car?  Ewan?

Ewan: Me?  I think a seamless experience, right?  I want the thing to work.  If it’s going to break, I don’t want an interruption in service.

Ben: I’d love the idea of taking all the smart out of vehicle, out of that infotainment center in the middle, and putting it; at least putting the brain in my phone so the car is just a screen. 

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: Then my car could update as frequently as my apps do.

Ewan: Yes.

Rafe: For me, it’s not really about putting the brains into the smart phone, but it’s about just the wider trend of your smart phone being your universal remote control for life.  There’s loads of data all around your in your life, not just in the car.  If that can be used in ways that makes my life better and I don’t have to think about it so much, that actually makes me happier essentially or rather it’s taking away stress.  I think that’s what’s important.

Ben: Okay, thanks very much, guys.  A pleasure as always.

Rafe: We have to ask the listeners, don’t we?

Ben: We should, so I think the great thing is actually I know we’ve got some really car-mad listeners so show us what you do.  Also, anyone in the States, this seems to be really, so this is are you using automatic, are you using any kind of connected car things now?

Rafe: Who’s got Tesla?

Ben: Have you got a Tesla?  Have you driven a Tesla, or hired one?

Ewan: You know my accountant by the way said …  I said, “What kind of car should I get?”  He said, “Nothing but the Tesla.”

Ben: The thing is it’s very expensive.

Ewan: I think you can get a massive discount.

Ben: We do, but it’s very expensive in the U.K.  I just want one so much, that is amazing.  You can comment on this post, there will be the usual three-question survey on 361podcast.com.  You can email us, link from the website.  You can follow us at 361podcasthour on Twitter.  Okay, guys, thank you very much.  Pleasure as always.  Thank you to Illi for his contribution getting us started on this conversation.

Rafe: Thank you.

Ben: We will be back next week.  Goodbye.