Automotive Aftermarket and IoT
We all know cars are getting smarter, and car manufacturers are competing more and more not just based on reliability but increasingly based on technology. At Metal Toad, we had some fun hacking into a minivan to see what kind of machine learning we could do with the data being output by a modern car. With the drop in prices for industrial grade Internet of Things (IoT) and other smart devices there are more and more opportunities for integration points, and higher and higher expectations from consumers.
The Challenge for Automotive Manufacturers
These high expectations regarding take result in almost impossible standards for car manufacturers to meet. This is because in addition to the 5 year average most people keep their car, there's also the 3-year lead time in designing and manufacturing a car. This can result in brand new cars being loaded with "state of the art" technology that's 3-years old on the first day a car is brought out into the lot, and that same technology will be 8-years-old by the time that car hits the secondary market.
An Opportunity for the Automotive Aftermarket
The increasing demand for new technology from consumers, as well as the lag time in manufacturing our increasingly complex cars, create a significant opportunity for the automotive aftermarket which can release new products more quickly and more cheaply - feeding enthusiasts with what they want faster: newer better technology. The rise of the Uber generation also creates new possible suite of add-ons which may be less about performance and more about the car-ride experience. The right device that improves safety, rider experience and proves easy to install could potentially be mandated by a ride share company like Lyft or Uber (or any of these other 10 rideshare companies) as a differentiator in an increasingly competitive and commodified market.
IoT (without the I)
One of the most over hyped elements of the smart car is actually the internet connection. And while it's true, you do need the Internet to technically call a smart device an "IoT" device, there's still a lot of interesting things that can be done with sensors and bluetooth connecting locally to a driver or passengers smartphone. At Metal Toad we're engaged with an automotive aftermarket manufacturer in a very specific niche developing a realtime bluetooth+mobile app system that does some really cool stuff. (Also, incidentally once you connect to your mobile device your back on the Internet most of the time, so you can be back to talking about IoT).
A Winning Formula
As with building winning race cars, getting smart devices right is an iterative process. Proof of concepts and working with the right technology partner can save a ton of time and money. But most important is realizing the the strong competitive advantage of being able to on successes and failures, and not letting the world pass you by.