CES Session: Predicting the Future of Mobility & Connectivity

In a session on the future of mobility/transportation, speakers from several companies described the tipping point of the impact of technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Deloitte’s Allan Cook spoke about how AR/VR can be used to appeal to a younger generation loathe to enter a car dealership. “The AR/VR glasses are here now and they’re affordable,” he said. “It really helps your customers visualize what they’re seeing and give them an immersive experience.”

AR and VR can also be used to create dealership pop-ups at concerts or malls, said Cook (below, left). “If I’m at a pop-up store, I can put on the VR glasses and see the car on the road,” he said. “The dealer can have every single car in stock. It’s a fantastic way of engaging. With AR, you can walk around the vehicle and it can enhance details.” He noted that there are hundreds of use cases. “To start now, you have to ask where the technology is and how you can maximize the experience now,” he said.

Talking about entertainment in the vehicle, Nokia’s Jyri Huopaniemi noted that millennials expect a car with advanced audio and video technology. “What we’re thinking of is how can we make the car of the future with immersive audio and visual solutions,” he said. He noted that, “the role of storytelling is really changing.”

“You see new forms of content being made, both professionally and consumer-generated,” he said.  One key trend is that vehicles will become hubs of microphones and cameras. “We need to rethink the role of the sensors to create a more immersive experience,” he said. Other trends are our need to make sense of the vast amounts of data being captured and, finally, to determine the “interaction metaphors” for AR and VR. “With AI, you’ll be able to personalize the experience,” he said.

VW’s Alvaro Ramis talked about the initiative to create fleets of autonomous shared vehicles in urban environments, something he believes will be a reality by the middle of the next decade. Much needs to be worked through before this becomes a reality, especially as cars number in the hundreds, which is more daunting to city officials. Other challenges include establishing the infrastructure of charging so many vehicles and deciding if it will be publicly or privately managed.

Verizon’s Lani Ingram (above, with Cook) spoke about the impact of 5G on smart cities and autonomous vehicles. “When every vehicle has sensors, you can’t do it all without 5G,” she said.

Finally, Raytheon’s Will Cottrell spoke about his company’s use of radar and its Agile software to work on autonomous flying cars. “There will be commercially viable autonomous flying vehicles in the next three years,” he said, noting that Raytheon’s flying car program will be announced by the end of the decade.

“There are still a number of barriers,” he said, “including consumer reluctance, which we’re seeing with autonomous vehicles on the ground, as well as rules and regulations and when the technology will be sure enough and scalable to bring on line. It takes a lot of different stakeholders to make this a reality.”