The future of keeping entertained in the autonomous vehicle explored by Graham Jarvis.

BIS Automotive predicted in a report that the global in-vehicle entertainment market will reach a total market value of $52.2Bn ($37.6Bn) by 2022. The report, Global In-Vehicle Infotainment Market, Analysis and Forecast 2017-2022, was announced in a BIS Research press release in May 2017 and claims that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 7.5% during this period.

James Manning Smith, a research analyst at Futurescope, explains this growth potential saying: “With autonomous driving technologies set to make the car the next living room, entertainment companies are exploring new technology and services to entertain passengers”.

“Once Level 4 or 5 autonomous driving technologies are perfected and accepted by consumers, key differentiators such as in-car choice will become the entertainment experience, over the driving experience. This provides an opportunity for audio and entertainment companies to innovate bringing more immersive entertainment technology to the car, whilst car manufacturers are challenged to stay competitive bringing the right entertainment technology to the cockpit.”

Damien Scott, chief commercial officer at Renovo.auto adds: “Systems like CarPlay, Android Auto and Microsoft Sync have helped to bring that content into the vehicle systems – primarily audio. The next phase will be to exploit content capabilities that are unique to the vehicle more directly, and in particular around visual content. So, in highly automated vehicles, it will be possible to have the passenger experience designed around a large screen.”

“This has the potential to bring more visual content from the smartphone to vehicle screens. Initially, systems like Apple AirPlay and Google Casting will enable the smartphone as the primary content originator for such screens. As the vehicles mature greater use of native storage and content will be used. For example, the pre-loading of popular content onto the vehicle by anticipating consumer demand.”

Changing habits

Martyn Whistler, lead analyst for media and entertainment at Ernst & Young (EY) finds that there are several factors that will drive connected cars are over the forthcoming years. For example, will people commute to work in the future? “In the UK the number of people taking driving tests is down, [and this] is illustrative of changing attitudes towards driving and vehicle ownership.” He predicts an increase in ride-sharing, car-sharing and fleet schemes. Ford, for example, is experimenting with car fleets, and there are plans afoot for Uber to buy fleet of 24,000 self-driving XC90 SUV between 2019 and 2021. He therefore believes that companies like these will drive changes in attitude.

He adds: “If you still want to drive you could rent a car by the hour or in a minute, meaning that you won’t need to invest in large amounts of capital to buy one. This will stimulate the types of innovation. The other angle is around regulation. If autonomous vehicles are generally safer you will see a push from regulators (based on the claims that they safer), you might see a push by consumers for the adoption of this technology, and far quicker than it is currently proposed. Inevitably it becomes cheaper and more effective.”

Beyond driving

This nevertheless leaves, in his opinion, a big question mark hanging over media and entertainment. “We did some research focusing on the US, and we asked the question: If everyone was driving autonomous vehicles tomorrow, what would be the incremental time – which would allow people to do other things with their time, other than driving?” With increasing levels of autonomous driving, even the ‘driver’ may want to find other ways to occupy his time. The other ‘passengers’ within the vehicle may want to much the same too.

In response to these questions EY’s study estimated that there would potentially be 22Bn hours of extra media consumption, over and above what is consumed today. This leaves the questions of what people are going to do with the extra time they gain, and what kinds of media consumption are likely to be required. “People are taking their existing media services such as Spotify or Netflix and putting them into the car, so they aren’t paying for anything new and so there is no incremental increase in revenue”, he explains.

He then asks: “So how do you change this?” The answer perhaps falls on the ability of either the OEMS, media companies, tech or telco companies to create new experiences.  He responds by saying: “You could have new screens in the car, or use augmented reality as the car drives along. Those kinds of changes require a rethink of the technologies in the car and how the car is designed. What we are seeing now is a manoeuvring of technology and car companies to see who will be responsible for those kinds of services in the car.”

Entertainment infancy

Robert Guest, vice-president of product management at Access Europe, comments that entertainment in cars is still in its infancy. He highlights that there are some legal cross-border hurdles to overcome too. In fact he believes the barriers to the growth of in-car infotainment in connected and autonomous vehicles relates more to licensing that technology.

“Automotive companies don’t have business models to cope with the licensing of cross-border content. So, if you are happily driving in Holland and you cross the border, the content stops. This will cause much frustration, but it is down to legal issues – the so-called Portability of online content included in the ‘European Digital Single Market’, and not a technical one.”

However, he notes: “The portability rules are an integral part of the European Union’s Digital Single Market policy, which aims at enabling consumers across all 27 member countries to access the content they have subscribed to freely and securely from one country to another – effectively breaking the borders that still remain when dealing with content rights. This European specificity will be put in place in April 2018.”

Forming partnerships

With eyes on the future, Scott says partnerships are being formed: “Beyond streaming services, partnerships are being formed to create new infotainment services for the highly automated vehicle era. One such example is the partnership my company Renovo.auto struck with INRIX to both take advantage of data being generated by the vehicles and to explore how INRIX OpenCar can present a new range of infotainment services to passengers in highly automated vehicles.”

Meanwhile, a notable partnership is being formed by Intel and Warner Bros. Advertisers, game developers, car manufacturers, telcos, Hollywood and many others are jumping aboard with an eye on future revenue opportunities. Autonomous vehicles are being seen as a new kind of consumer space by Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, and the Hollywood Report notes that some analysts are predicting the in-car streaming entertainment will offer $200Bn (£144Bn) per year in extra revenue. Much of that revenue will come from getting the consumer to sign up to premium streaming services. Apps and online services will contribute to this revenue and yet data volumes may become very challenging.

[Tele.Jarvis.2017.12.08]

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