There is a battle currently brewing in the auto industry. Technology companies are racing to be the first to market with mobile applications and related technologies for automobiles.

Why are these software companies trying to win in this space?  It is a pure volume play.  In 2012 there were more than 60 million cars produced in the world—and millions upon millions more that could be retrofitted with these applications. This could be a great revenue stream with annuity, as new vehicles are produced each year, to replace those vehicles going out of service.

Because cars are inherently mobile, and it is reckless to drive while being distracted in the vehicle, hands-free and voice-activated applications are plentiful. Some examples of applications and software being used in technologies include

  • in-vehicle services (think OnStar™)
  • hardware
  • telematics (computer technology used in vehicles)
  • telecomm services. 

With the explosion of the tablets across the world, companies are scrambling to identify ways to integrate these into vehicles.  Examples of this include such features as core control centers (check out Tesla’s interior) to high-end owner’s manuals.  When iPads and other tablets are integrated into vehicles, literally hundreds of thousands of applications become available, such as Pandora, Dragon Dictation, Instant Messaging, Google, audio books, and so forth.

This trend has me thinking about potential learning opportunities within this coming tsunami of new software capability in vehicles.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if “mobile learners”—and I do mean mobile—could do things like the following?

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  • Record a sales pitch in route to a client and play it back; repeat as necessary or until sales pro arrives at final destination.
  • Review product information.
  • Ask questions about competition.
  • Listen to an audio book on a new topic.
  • Learn a foreign language in preparation for an upcoming international trip.
  • Record notes for an upcoming project or pursuit.
  • Check LinkedIn to review who you are meeting with in case you haven’t met them.
  • Read current business, industry, and trade magazines.
  • Participate in collaborative meetings.
  • Create task lists for the day.
  • Brainstorm a list of ideas for an upcoming project.

In essence, there is a limitless number of mobile learning activities that will come from these applications directly, or can happen by leveraging functionality of applications not necessarily meant for learning.  Other examples might include, using the Kindle application inside a car to have a text book read to the driver, or using Dragon Dictation to develop a lesson plan for some training to be delivered.

The future is nearer than you might realize. Indeed, much of Marty McFly’s technology from Back to the Future really will be available for driver convenience—and also for truly mobile learning.

What ideas do you have for these smart apps in cars?

http://www.worldometers.info/cars/