TU Detroit 2013: Day Two

TU Detroit 2013: Day Two

The focal point of Telematics Detroit 2013 shifted from the keynotes and panels of Day One to the exhibition floor on Day Two.

Plenty was still happening in the conference rooms, where OEMs and telematics providers like BMW, Verizon Telematics and WirelessCar, to name a few, addressed opportunities and challenges in the present marketplace.

But the exhibition floor exerted a greater gravitational pull.

Partha Goswami, technology manager of connected vehicle and infotainment at General Motors, told me that he was spending more time among the booths and demos this year than he ever had in years past, due to the breadth of solutions on display. “There’s a lot going on,” he said before jetting off toward another booth.

Bigger is better

The list of exhibitors numbered 100 in total, 30% more than last year.

Verizon and Sprint, wireless providers who’ve made large pushes into telematics in the past year — Sprint with the telematics platform Sprint Velocity and Verizon with its acquisition of Hughes Telematics — each had super-sized booths at the center of the exhibition floor displaying their latest offerings.

Nearby sat a sporty white Viper that showcased Airbiquity’s latest cloud-based mobile integration solution Choreo 5.0. QNX countered with a black Bentley and silver Jeep Sahara Wrangler, each with QNX’s in-vehicle infotainment system inside.

On the frivolous side of things, cloud specialist Covisint hauled in a sleek Camaro, gutted and filled with a slot car race track.

Last year’s conference attendees will recall photo ops with the famous James Bond car from Goldfinger. This year 007’s ride didn’t make it, but all day long, attendees could be found taking their best shot at the slot track course, which Covisint had set up with a digital display to track fastest lap times.

(Let it be humbly noted that the person penning this article recorded the fastest time of the day).


Meanwhile, Kevin Link of Verizon Telematics pointed out what everyone who’s passionate about telematics knows but doesn’t like to admit: “Customers don’t typically wake up in the morning and say, ‘Boy I wish I had telematics in my car.’”

Taken one step further, the average Joe doesn’t even know what the word “telematics” means. What he wants is connectivity, and he wants his content, services and contacts to follow him into the car. And the job of the car maker is to figure out how to deliver it in a way that is simple, flexible and intuitive. 

Not surprisingly, the buzz word at this year’s conference was “customer,” as in customer-centric, customer value or customer services. “For us as an industry to get to 100% adoption, we have to stop burdening the customer,” Link said.

Still, what customers want is pretty basic: hands-free calling, navigation and automated crash notification, all services that help them mitigate stress, save time or increase safety, according to Thilo Koslowski, vice president for automotive vehicle ICT at Gartner.

ParkMe, BestParking, Parkopedia

One can easily imagine other services that fit into this same ecosystem: apps that illuminate available parking spots in a driver’s local setting, for example. On the exhibition floor, in fact, the word “Parking” was in play seemingly every way I turned. ParkMe. BestParking. Parkopedia.

These applications vary slightly, but the general idea is to offer customers a window into the parking situation in their local environments.

Over-the-air map updates were also a big topic this year.

Having announced a new integration of Parkopedia into its ConnectedDrive telematics platform during Day Two, BMW also noted the fact that they will now bring over-the-air updates on charging station POIs to their in-vehicle navigation systems  as this is one of the easiest ways to improve the quality and decrease the burden, as Link said, on the customer.

This will be a particular focus for BMWi, a new electric vehicle line. “Charging stations are popping up out of the ground like mushrooms,” said BMW’s Doug Claus. Maps that direct drivers to the closest charging station (a big selling point) are thus of little value if those maps are already outdated before customers even receive them fresh off the dealer’s lot. Updates are, therefore, a priority.

Looking ahead

Come the end of Day Two, it was clear that the opportunities facing the telematics industry today are large, the challenges equally so.

The winners will be those who are flexible, who forge the right partnerships and who get as close to the customer as possible, thus ushering the connected vehicle into a new era.

“Collaboration and bringing ecosystems together will allow us to bring the business cases together,” concluded Martin Rosell of WirelessCar.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For our coverage of Day One of the conference, click here.

For more information about Telematics Update Awards, click here.

For more information on TU Detroit 2013, see here.

For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry insight: Telematics and apps

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Content & Apps for Automotive Europe 2013 on June 18-19 in Munich, V2V & V2I for Auto Safety USA 2013 on July 9-10 in Novi, MI, Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on September 4-5 in Chicago,Telematics Russia 2013 in September in Moscow, Telematics LATAM 2013 in September in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics Japan 2013 on October 8-10 in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2013 on November 11-12.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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