Earlier this year, at Google I/O, Ford and Google announced a new project that would use Google’s cloud-based tools to make vehicles smarter. Later this week, at the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, Ford will give its first public demonstrations of the fruits of this work. The idea behind this work is to use Google’s Prediction API to “predict driver behavior in order to optimize vehicle control systems and improve vehicle performance attributes such as fuel or hybrid-electric efficiency.”
I still remember plugging my portable CD player into a cassette adapter so I could listen to my music in the car. Today, in-car cassette players are a thing of the past, but most cars still come with built-in CD players. According to Ford's global trends and futuring manger Sheryl Connelly, that could soon change, though. While talking to AM Online, Connelly noted that "the in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.”
In Ford's vision, a driver would opt into this system and allow Ford to build an anonymous profile based on the data it gathers from a given car's telematics system. Based on this data, the system would then be able to predict where you are going depending on the time of day, for example, and optimize your car's performance settings accordingly. The car could also ask a driver for confirmation as well ("Are you going to work?").
One trend that's very clear at this year's CES is that the Internet is slowly making its way into cars. Of course, you can already browser the net and play music from Pandora through your smartphone, but the next generation of cars - and especially electric cars - are making the Internet an integral part of the car's feature set.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.