News & Views

Smart Cars

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Auto brand reveals self-learning car, complete with on-board Smart Assistant

British luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has unveiled futuristic in-car technology that will learn and adapt to the needs of both drivers and passengers. The intelligent car will, the brand hopes, allow people to concentrate on driving without being distracted, therefore reducing the risk of accidents.

JLR has devised a new learning algorithm that can recognise who is in the car and then begin to understand their preferences and driving style. The software then merges this data with your calendar, the time of day, traffic conditions and the weather to predict driver behaviour and take over many of the daily chores associated with driving.

The system recognises the driver by connecting to their smartphone, and can adjust the driving position, mirrors and steering wheel to suit individual preferences before they’ve even opened the door. The vehicle also takes into account driving conditions, such as snow or rain, and adjusts accordingly. And it learns the particular driver’s driving style.

The Smart Assistant then offers a truly contextual service: it can review your schedule for the day, understand where you need to be, and work out the best route based on real-time traffic conditions. Or it can offer live flight updates if you’re driving to the airport.

And if you’re taking your kids to school, the car recognises exactly who is in the car and what their individual preferences are (i.e. what music playlists they like to listen to). The system can send reminders to the driver based on this information – like ‘have you remembered their kit for the match this afternoon?’

‘Up until now most self-learning car research has only focused on traffic or navigation prediction. We want to take this a significant step further and our new learning algorithm means information learnt about you will deliver a completely personalised driving experience and enhance driving pleasure,’ said Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology for JLR.

Contagious Insight / 

Concept cars / First up, let’s just stress that this is a concept. It’s not currently in any of the JLR portfolio of cars, and it’s not for sale. However, Jaguar Land Rover is famous for pioneering technology that pushes the auto category forward. This year already, the brand has launched AR tech that lets drivers see the road through the bonnet, and sensors that turn it into a remote controlled car (there’s more of that in our Land Rover case study).

It’s also worth pointing out that the brand is famous for bringing its concepts to reality – when the Evoque launched, for instance, the world’s media commended the designers for making it just as exciting as the initial concept vehicle. So when JLR announces an exciting concept, it’s worth taking note.

Switch to software / For Land Rover, the brand, this is potentially a huge development. As our case study explored, Land Rover already makes some of the world’s most capable cars. The technology in these vehicles is category defining, and no other auto manufacturer can compete with the incredible off-road abilities of the cars.

But, having nailed the hardware, Land Rover now seems to be turning much of its attention towards software. It’s using this to become a more important part of people’s lives, and the Smart Assistant extends the brand’s reach beyond the doors of the actual vehicle.

The importance of personal context / We’ve seen plenty of ‘smart’ vehicle examples over the past few years. Google has pioneered driverless cars, and at CES this year it announced the Open Automotive Alliance, which aims to install the Android platform in car brands like Audi, GM, Hyundai and Honda.

However, JLR’s technology moves this on by specifically designing around individuals. If the brand can get this right, it’ll become an indispensable part of driver’s lives, as they’ll rely on it to take care of the chores of driving – from adjusting driving positions through to finding petrol stations. Granted, there will be a lot of competition for the control of the dashboard (most notably from Google Now and Glass), but it could be a big loyalty-driver and improve consumer perception of these forward-thinking vehicles.

Adaptive Services & Contextual Integration / This story taps into two themes that Contagious has been covering in detail throughout 2014. I/O subscribers can check out our trend on Adaptive Services, which shows the power of data flowing between ‘smart’ objects, and how we can expect to be at the centre of personal operating systems in the future.

And then watch Contagious Insider Will Sansom’s recent talk on Contextual Integration. This explores how marketers are taking things like time, place, platforms, habits, intent and persona into account to develop more relevant communications.