Flight Mode 4.0 for the Connected Car

December 15, 2016
Daniel Mieves
glass car

“A man´s home is his castle” is an often quoted idiom that has been around since the Roman times. But in the current 24/7 juggle of commitments that defines life in 2016, you can forget a man’s home; a man’s car is his castle. Whether singing, shouting, cursing or just relaxing – the automobile remains one of the last spaces for solitude available in today’s culture.

A man´s car is his castle

Behind the wheel of a car remains one environment where rare moments of ‘me-time’ can still be achieved. Research shows that 60 percent of drivers claim to be happier making a solo trip instead of with passengers. Whether it’s singing along to the radio, or getting lost in thought, the car has become a sanctuary to escape the stresses and strains of modern life. A chance to put miles – physical and metaphorical – between you and whatever is bothering you.

Since the mass production of affordable people’s cars like the VW Beetle or the Ford F-series the privately owned car has been synonymous with individual liberty. Not just freedom in movement terms, it’s about being able to create your own kingdom inside the car, a realm where your own free will and freedom of choice can be exercised.

Private spaces are now open to the public

Our connected culture means that we reveal so much of ourselves online. Spaces that were once intimately private are now open to the public. At the 2016 YouTube festival in Berlin, the Head of Culture for the video website Kevin Allocca made an interesting examination into how private videos from inside cars translated into incredibly popular videos.

Comedian James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke was an extraordinary viral sensation. The concept couldn’t be simpler: he drives around various celebrities and encourages them to sing along to songs with him. The biggest hits were Adele (130 million views) and First Lady Michelle Obama (45 million views.)

It´s not just celebs cashing in on the popularity of in car clips, videos involving ordinary people such as “David after the dentist” and “Chewbacca Mask Mom” have accumulated almost 350 million views between them.  

Let there be choice

So is privacy, particularly in cars, still sacred or should we accept that to live in a connected world we have to live very public lifestyles? As cars are waking up and coming online, both driverless and with advanced operating systems, people are beginning to voice concerns about privacy and data tracking.

The solution is simple: like the videos on YouTube that go viral, there should always be the choice to upload or update. It should never be forced. The consumer must be able to actively opt for the service and knowingly give access in order to complete the process. Naturally, being able to switch off again easily is crucial. Let’s call this flight Mode 4.0 for the connected car.

The question is: can the automotive industry offer this with its superior quality control in the manufacturing process at the price of eternal update cycles?

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