“Connectivity” is the big buzzword these days among automakers looking to attract a new generation of younger and tech-savvy buyers by integrating smartphone functionality into their vehicles. To that end, many of today’s cars feature the ability to enable hands-free calling and digital song downloading from a smartphone, with some now able to access Internet radio services and read aloud text messages, Twitter “tweets” and Facebook updates via a synthesized voice.
While car companies have had little success at connecting with auto-averse millennials in the process (sales to those in the 18-34-year-old age group have actually dropped by 35 percent offer the last five years according to R.L. Polk & Co.), the next wave of in-car connectivity will reach beyond the realm of youthful hipsters and into the average motorist’s everyday life. So says Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices for AT&T, whom we encountered at a recent conference on connectivity. “We can expect the integration of smartphones and cars to help make vehicles safer, leverage onboard diagnostics to both help the driver and to relay important vehicle information back to the manufacturer and to simply make the driving experience more engaging,“ Lurie says. “The car itself is fast becoming a wireless device, it’s just that simple.”
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