This article is part of the special topic "Future Mobility".

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The range of in-car services increases tremendously
The range of in-car services increases tremendously
( Source: General Motors)

in-car services In-car communication is creating a huge opportunity for new revenue models

Author / Editor: Cate Lawrence / Florian Richert

Cars are becoming an extension of our digital selves, bringing forth an enormous service economy to provide in-car services. We’re preparing for a time when we ride as passengers, not drivers, leading to a growth in-car communication and entertainment.

The car experience that futurists have been promising us for ages is getting closer. While autonomous vehicles are far from mainstream, we're seeing the rollout of in-car capabilities, services, and experiences in preparation for when we shift from drivers and passengers to passengers only. Much of this revolves around in-car communication. It's a time of an in-car economy with huge economic opportunity for car manufacturers, service providers, virtual assistants, streaming services, platform providers and payment companies.

There are two interconnected trends: a blurring between the real and digital worlds, and the car as a " third place" beyond work or home. A car is no longer a buffer from the outside world but offers 'always on' communication in constant conversation with your other connected devices. Always underpinning these trends is preparation for how we'll use our cars when we are no longer driving.


Carmakers are working with service providers to make cars personalized and intuitive through touch screen dashboards, voice activation, and in-car sensors. It’s personalization-as-a-service where the user experience is tailored from past behaviors and opt-in extras. The FCA this month announced the Uconnect 5 Global Platform, will be rolled out in Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. Each customer can build their own profile, featuring preferences for music and vehicle operation. The system also connects vehicle-side systems to a driver's profile, such as temperature, seating position, and mirror placement. Switching between user profiles is simple and can be handled by a single touch.

This year's CES unveiled Sony Vision-S – a concept car that encompasses safety, entertainment, and adaptability. The car is embedded with 33 sensors that can spot hazards and detect driver fatigue. 360 Reality Audio enables each passenger to enjoy their favorite music in their seats with a personalized sound configuration. There's a panoramic screen for watching movies and tv shows.

Sony Vision-S comes with an accompanying app that enables a driver to summon their parked car to their present location. A map being viewed by a driver outside of the vehicle will display automatically on the car's panoramic screen as soon as the driver enters. Music that a passenger is listening to on their earphones before getting into a car will automatically be transferred to the car's speakers as it embarks.

The car as a marketplace

General Motors kicked off the industry's first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases in 2017. Called Marketplace, it's a dashboard touchscreen retail platform. It's grown more capable over the last few years. It leverages machine learning from real-time interaction data, such as location, time of day, and a driver's established digital relationship with third-party merchants. The company asserts: "Marketplace enables businesses to seamlessly integrate into drivers' daily lives."

It offers a highly personalized experience that enables drivers to order (and pay for) food and fuel, book accommodation, and access other services. Consumers can also purchase WiFi data, receive discounts for an oil change, and deals on GM accessories.

It's only the beginning. Cars of the future will see massive growth in pay as you go, subscriptions, and in-car entertainment-as-a-service with transactions spread across channels, platforms, and devices. It's a huge revenue opportunity for car manufacturers and the abundance of businesses set to profit.

Immersive, interactive entertainment

One of the real values of 5G will be the benefits to in-car entertainment, particularly streaming services and video games. Last year Tesla added a "Caraoke" library to a number of their vehicles. Owners can connect and watch videos on their Netflix, Hulu and YouTube accounts via the center console (when the car is parked). There's also a load of video games in the Tesla Arcade. Volvo, GM, and Ford are also installing larger display screens and partnering with Google and Apple.

Holoride creating a virtual experience combining virtual reality headsets with real-time physical feedback of the car in motion.
Holoride creating a virtual experience combining virtual reality headsets with real-time physical feedback of the car in motion.
(Source: Holoride)

Then there's Holoride; a startup co-founded by Audi Electronics Venture GmbH. They are creating a virtual experience combining virtual reality headsets with real-time physical feedback of the car in motion. The headsets are wired into the car. When the vehicle accelerates, brakes, or turns, the same happens in the game, so the player feels everything happening on the screen. Holoride says the technology could also apply to movies and TV shows. They call the content elastic as it can adapt to the route length and type, driving styles, and location for experiences tailored to your journey.

It's also anticipated that we'll see the creation of multiplayer in-car gaming where players can play with others via vehicle-to-vehicle communication. We spend a good chunk of our lives in transit, and when we’re not spending all that time concentrating on the road, the car becomes a place for an entirely different suite of experiences - the type of which is only set to grow exponentially in the future.