Living in a digital age, we often make things happen at the click of a button, a swipe of a screen or a gesture. We can communicate with people around the world in real-time, send files in an instant, stream our choice of media as and when we want it. While technology is greatly enhancing our lives, we still spend (on average) more than one whole day a week driving. In fact we spend so much time behind the wheel, that our car is considered as our third living space – just behind our home and office. Is it any wonder that the in-car entertainment market is expected to soon be worth around $35 billion? And that’s set to rise as self-driving and autonomous cars take over.
Why is in-car entertainment such an important aspect of vehicle ownership? Aside from anything else, a number of drivers claim that it helps them stay focused when driving, and numerous studies prove that. Many motorists believe music makes the journey feel shorter. And then of course, we have the whole list of the reasons that derive the term ‘entertainment’, from love for singing to feeling good with music on.
From the early to present days of in-car entertainment
From the earliest days of ‘the motorcar’, owners have been finding ways to entertain themselves whilst out for a drive; it took less than four decades after Karl Benz’s invention for Chevrolet to fit a car radio in to a customer’s car, at the equivalent cost of around $3,000 in today’s money.
While technology is marching onwards, you might assume that the old school radio and CD player have had their day. However, more than half of the respondents to a survey of British motoring habits said their number one choice for music was the radio, with 35% of them never changing the station.
It would seem that music stations are the most popular – nearly 84% admitted to singing along with the radio, either just when their favourite song came on, or for the majority of the time. Singing in the car is so popular that four times as many people prefer that to singing in the privacy of their own shower!
So what does the future of ICE hold?
Of course, the advent of self-driving and fully autonomous vehicles will have an impact on what the future of in-car entertainment holds, with many manufacturers considering the windscreen as the perfect viewing platform for games, media and AR (Augmented Reality) systems.
Companies such as Valeo are investing heavily in future technology – current spending is around £1.3 billion for ‘future’ projects, and most manufacturers (be that vehicular or accessory) are looking to tech of tomorrow to solve needs that we don’t currently have. BMW for example, are working on holographic dashboards and centre-consoles, which in turn will allow a vast increase for interior size and comfort, allowing the interior space to be styled more like a living room than a cabin of a car.
There is no doubt that future technology will change how we commute, perhaps even changing driving habits entirely, but one thing will remain as a constant – the need for in-car entertainment, be that in form of music that we listen to, or games and other media.
Increasing the technological awareness
Realistically, we’re still a decade away from true autonomy, but even with the technology allowing for that, there need for a societal change will appear. Our understanding of vehicles and driving stems from the human being the smartest decision maker on-board, and there won’t be much advancement until we allow the microchip to wrest control comfortably.
The connected car is here, but at the moment we should think of it more like a Betamax version rather than full HD: it’s infinitely better than it was, but nowhere near where it’s going to end up. Until then, some of us will still be flipping our cassette tape at the end of each side.
About the author:
Giles Kirkland is a car tyres expert at Oponeo and a dedicated automotive writer researching on new technological solutions. His interests revolve around the revolutionary technologies used in modern cars. Giles passionately shares his knowledge and experience with the automotive and technology enthusiasts across the globe.