50 years of automotive and TV innovation
By Dr. Neale Foster, COO and VP Sales, ACCESS Europe
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is turning 50 in 2017, which gives us a perfect opportunity to look back on how the automotive and video worlds have evolved.
TV: from one channel to TV Everywhere
Younger readers might not remember it, but back in the 1970s, watching TV was a lot less diverse than today. Germany was divided into two separate countries with radically different TV cultures and the rest of Europe consisted almost entirely of public broadcasters, with British TV airing just three channels: BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Today, each consumer can access a plethora of channels from a number of sources (cable, IP, Over-The-Top, satellite, terrestrial) and across an incredibly wide range of topics such as sports, news, reality TV and TV series.
In addition, the rise of new video sources like YouTube and the move that social media platforms are turning into smaller scale broadcasters is providing viewers with access to even more content. This in turn has led to the requirement for good quality Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) and search engine, as well as a need for better user experience solutions.
While this may come as a surprise to many, even though there wasn't much variety in the content people had access to back in the 1970s, the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) was born in that era. A viral video last year showed that children today have no clue how this device works anymore, which demonstrates that we are indeed in a completely digital era for consumption, storage and security. Today, viewers use the cloud to store their content, restart a programme exactly where they paused it and appreciate lifelike details using Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) ready TVs.
CES 2017 will provide insight for companies at the crossroads of these technologies, enabling broadcasters and operators to offer state-of-the-art experiences across multiple devices and content sources. From content aggregation and data collection for analytics features integrated within operator-powered apps, through to secure media re-distribution and a similar user experience across all platforms - whether smartphones and tablets, game consoles or even e-Readers - there is room for a full range of innovations to feed hungry multiscreen viewers.
Automotive: 50 years preparing for the driverless car?
'The Car', a thriller about a rogue driverless car committing murders in a remote area of the US, was released back in 1977. While the evil machine trope wasn't new in any way, it shows how far back we started thinking that our cars would drive themselves one day. Cars today may be smart, capable of parking themselves and towing each other, but the days of the fully autonomous, driverless car are still a few years away as the industry solves fundamental challenges of security and passenger experience.
The automotive revolution is moving up a gear and we're proud to be an active player in one of the most exciting areas of technology today: In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). This new drive towards greater connectivity and entertainment in the car has been going on for a number of years, but no one expected that these big sci-fi dreams would become true until car keys became connected, panoramic screens started surrounding drivers and passengers alike, and the almighty smartphone became the next generation satnav. However, the industry still needs to agree on ways to achieve it.
The recent developments have been supporting open-source solutions, with Linux spearheading this effort. Yet, the large market share of Apple in consumer electronics (43.5% for the iPhone by the end of 2016 according to eMarketer) means that developers need to be able to leverage proprietary solutions to create experiences for closed platforms plugged into the car head unit. At the same time, car manufacturers need to ensure that the system in place will easily interact with the rest of their connected solutions to avoid an unsatisfactory experience for the driver and passengers. We believe that using standards-based proprietary solutions will open the door to seamless solutions that can be accessed directly via the head unit or the driver's own mobile device for a truly personal feel, while bridging the car manufacturer and the consumer electronics worlds.
CES 2017 is set to showcase incremental innovation around the use of 5G networks, as demonstrated by the "Stoked for 5G" supersession hosted by Ericsson on January 5. Both BMW and SK Telecom will be taking part in the panel, and will no doubt present their recent development with T5, the first 5G-connected car that was tested in November 2016. T5 demonstrates that we are getting closer to achieving fully autonomous driving in the 5G era, enabling huge amounts of data to be sent to a central control unit, which can even be inside the car itself.
While it is clear that the days when you start watching a programme on the living room TV and finish it inside a connected vehicle are still a few years away, we are edging ever close. CES 2017 will provide a barometer that will enable us to gauge the current landscape and discover how all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create personal experiences across all the devices we use daily. With 13 connected devices per average American household according to IHS' recent Connected Device Market Monitor, there is still room for better integration and more seamless experiences as we move towards a truly connected era.