Don’t believe what you see in the side-view mirror. The next generation of in-vehicle applications is closer than it appears. The biggest reason: The rapidly accelerating deployment of LTE ( long term evolution ) networks. (More basic information here.)
Auto manufacturers recognize that LTE is the future of mobile connectivity, and many are already planning LTE-equipped vehicles for as soon as 2014. With improved range and connection speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s 2G and 3G data services, these LTE-connected systems will enable unprecedented applications in the vehicle.
From an engineering perspective, however, LTE presents some significant challenges. To design an effective LTE-connected car system, you need to understand where LTE networks are today, where they’re going, and what attributes in-car systems should have to bridge that gap.
The promise of LTE
With the ability to connect cars over LTE networks—effectively, the ability to bring wireline broadband speeds to the automobile—a wide range of new applications become available in the vehicle. Services like Internet-streamed video, music, and even video conferencing (used from the passenger or rear seat, of course) will likely be the first examples that spring to mind.
These applications will benefit not just from the supercharged capacity and range of LTE, but from the much lower latency of LTE systems (latency often being the most critical factor in delivering a high quality-of-experience to the user). But the potential for LTE-connected car applications goes beyond entertainment and communications.
For example, superfast vehicle-to-vehicle communications could enable new safety services, such as the ability to stream video of road conditions recorded from other vehicles in real time, or receive alerts when cars up ahead of you slam on their brakes. In theory, the LTE-connected car could become a portal for all sorts of new applications and services—much like the iPhone transformed the mobile phone, and spawned previously unthinkable mobile services and business models.
These and other possibilities are