You return from work by car and get home, where the heating came on a few minutes ago, at whatever temperature you like… This scenario is not so difficult to imagine – or to achieve: a simple programmer is all you need. However there is a subtle difference: it was, in fact, your car that, as it approached your house, “ordered” the heating to come on. Welcome to the future of convergence, in which your home and your car connect to each other.
For the great majority of people in industrialized countries, time is mainly divided between home, work…. and travel between the two. By private car in particular: according to a survey commissioned by Citroën in 2016 and conducted by the CSA Research institute in 7 European countries including France, we spend 4 years and one month of our lives in our cars, or 7.7% of our waking hours.
As a real extension of our home, our car is an “extra room”, explains Carlos Jordan de Urries, Head of Smart Home Products in the Partnership and Connected Objects department at Orange.
“Neither can avoid connectivity any longer, and both are digital environments in their own right, where we interact and communicate with or via objects”, he adds. With homes and cars becoming increasingly connected, convergence between the two, that is the ability to continue certain uses as you pass from one to the other, is an important issue, and a major expectation of users.”
A parallel development
In fact, the connected house and the connected car have developed considerably, in parallel, in recent years. In the former, increasing numbers of objects and systems are connected using high or very high speed broadband, and there were approximately 800,000 connected cars in France in 2017, a number which is expected to rise to 8.9 million in 2021, according to Statista Digital Market.
At the same time, the connected home has developed considerably, particularly as regards issues such as security, assistance and energy management.
In the future, there will be consistency between these two living environments, which will make best use of their respective connectivity capacities. First and foremost to provide the ability to control the services of one from the environment of the other and vice versa (for instance, to find out from your home the whereabouts of your car when it was parked by someone else the previous day).
But also to make your vehicle a secondary “device” under your contract, just as some people now use connected watches to make the most of their data allowance and access the content included in their bundle whilst on the move.
Initial solutions already available, others yet to come
Operators have a crucial role to play in delivering this connectivity “building block” to car manufacturers, in an open ecosystem which will also be the incubator in which future connected car services will be developed.
From the perspective of Home To Car convergence, the simultaneous explosion and merging of these two markets is already producing its first applications. The system of intelligent thermostats linked to cars, for example, is already available using Nest sensors from Google. Amazon, for its part, is working with Ford to integrate Alexa, its voice-activated smart assistant, into the North American manufacturer’s vehicles.
Similarly, with Orange’s virtual personal assistant Djingo, the voice is used as the perfect interface for interacting with home connectivity and users undoubtedly expect to be able to use this means of interacting with their cars in the future.
However, optimal convergence is still a long way away and there are several challenges along the road, particularly technical ones, in terms of access interfaces, connectivity and the management of user profiles.
The connected vehicle and the connected home are also not at the same stage of maturity: the virtual assistant that is beginning to find its way into some homes is soon expected to enter the car, where voice interaction is currently restricted to GPS navigation only.
As many uses as there are drivers
However the range of possibilities is wide open, and the expectations are there, “particularly in terms of content consumption”, continues Carlos Jordan de Urries. “Such as, for example, the ability to continue listening to a song or a podcast in the house, from the exact point at which it had been cut off in the car”, he explains. “Or to be able to share content between the two environments; for example, a father who is watching an interesting television programme and wants to show it to his wife in real time in the car. Or to monitor connected objects from either the car or the house.”
Before such a scenario becomes a reality, we must look at the question of relevance. “There as many in-car uses as there are users of cars!”, stresses Carlos Jordan de Urries. “These are all different, regular, casual, users for professional or personal purposes, etc… and it is fundamental to look at these different profiles before designing services left, right, and centre, that do not necessarily match the needs of the individual.” Convergence is also customization.