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App Innovation's Next Frontier: Connected Cars

As vehicle systems become the newest computing device, app developers will have to start thinking in different ways.
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Knight Rider's KITT might be a lot closer than we think. Connected cars are emerging as a new wave of computing, opening an exciting arena of opportunity for developers.

Forrester has just released a report entitled "Connected Cars: Prepare for the Next Computing Environment,” which looks at the next 10 years of the industry. Discussing new prospects as well as the incoming disruptions, Forrester predicts that mobile connectivity will become the "default in vehicles." 

According to Charles Golvin, a principal analyst, this will result in data plans getting a lot bigger, with cars being a new device. Those designing applications will have a number of unique challenges to tackle. 

Systems will have to take into account multiple passengers, rather than a single user. Simultaneously, they can't distract the driver--otherwise "safe driving" apps will have the opposite effect. App developers will also have to decide how their products will work: built-in, through a phone, or on a different platform entirely. Sprint and IBM's new partnership is already doing that: their car platform will have greater capabilities with its communication system. 

"All manner of automotive outsiders, from infrastructure vendors to cloud specialists to analytics providers, are vying to position themselves as uniquely able to supply the mix of skills and tools needed to perform this alchemy," Golvin said. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has even proposed that vehicles are able to "talk" to each other, in the hopes of preventing accidents. On this, Ford is ahead of the game: it's been testing a radio-equipped car that can alerts other vehicles when it makes a sudden stop. This could prevent crashes arising from blind turns. 

"Irrespective of how they get used," wrote Golvin, "applications will continue to be the innovative force that enables new experiences."




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