American drivers spend an average of 51 minutes each day in the car.
During this time, they are a captive audience for advertising from places like roadside billboards and radio ads. There’s a place left untapped from which to grab a consumer’s attention, and that place is the driver’s own dashboard screen. Dashboard screens hold a lot of possibilities for future targeted advertising and interactive apps for customers. This could be a “fourth screen” for consumers – another form of media alongside people’s televisions, computers and smartphones.
A new type of device
The dashboard display has the potential to become a new type of device in itself.
As drivers travel along their routes, they could be served advertising about nearby businesses that might serve their needs. The car could also monitor parts that need replacement, and offer coupons and deals for new auto parts. Insurance companies could offer apps that monitor driving habits, and offer discounts for customers that show safe driving skills.
The display could connect to forms of payment, giving the driver the option to pay for gas (or even a morning latte) directly from the screen. Experts estimate that dashboard data could create as much as $750 billion in new revenue by the year 2030.
The downside of the dashboard display
Although the dashboard display has a lot of potential, it is not without possible issues. To start, cars are not updated as often as phones, so automakers would need to find the right balance of innovative yet reliable technology.
Some technology that works well on smartphones would need to be adapted for a moving vehicle. For example, voice recognition might not work as well at 70 mph on the highway, competing with wind and road noise, not to mention a signal that may be going in and out.
Developers would also need to be aware of the potential for driver distraction, and adapt any apps to make safety the top priority.
Privacy is another concern, as many users would feel uncomfortable sharing many of their driving habits with faceless corporations. The device would need to have a default opt-in approach to information like location sharing and customer purchases.
Volkswagen is leading the way, but others aren't far behind
Volkswagen has leapt forward in dashboard development, creating its own vehicle computers, as well as their own online store for services and apps. This system will be a part of Volkswagen’s new line of electric cars. Volkswagen is collaborating with Google to prioritize the needs of both companies’ customers.
BMW is also exploring a collaboration with Nokia to develop dashboard technology, and Mercedes-Benz has a new dashboard assistant called “Hey Mercedes.” Ford is collaborating with Blackberry Ltd. to develop new digital features for its 2020 models.
Several other auto manufacturers are using existing Google technology, but integrating it into the vehicle systems.
With so many different companies involved, it’s hard to tell which will come out on top as the most popular system. One thing is for sure, tomorrow’s cars will have quite an impressive array of features, including that snazzy new dashboard.