Cloud Computing and your Car – Part 2

Cloud Computing and your Car – Part 2

In the first part of this two-part article, I wrote about Toyota’s efforts to bring cloud computing technology to the car, and Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff’s ideas on social networking between car owners, company sales force, dealers and customer service (See: Cloud Computing and your Car – Part 1 ). In this second and concluding part of the article, I will discuss Microsoft director of cloud strategy Michael Kogeler’s take on the matter.

In an article featured on Forbes, Kogeler envisions the car of the future as being able to “connect to the Internet, sending and receiving information that will update drivers and passengers on the go,” for which cloud computing offers a comparatively inexpensive implementation strategy. With car sales flagging, the cost-effectiveness of cloud computing will play a big role in any future strategy. He references a Gartner study that says by 2016, customers will demand “Web-centric data connectivity in their cars, which will lead to new consumer experiences and address sustainability, digital convergence and mobility trends”. In his opinion, cloud computing can make this a reality.

Kogeler outlines some of the benefits of such a technologically-advanced vehicle – navigational controls that help drivers avoid traffic congestions, billing systems that allow tolls to be paid automatically and more fulfilling in-car entertainment systems. He says that cloud technology, along with green technology advances, would drive the advancement of the automobile industry.

One of the most interesting features that Kogeler believes that cloud computing can help implement in cars is voice technology. While being obviously extremely useful, voice technology “requires a lot of processors and software”, as he points out. I had mentioned earlier in my review of the aforementioned Toyota-Microsoft collaboration that “moving to the cloud will allow increasing computerization of vehicles, since processing power will no longer be restricted to what can be accommodated within the chassis”. Thus, voice technology that can make “a huge difference in the driving experience…allowing the user to control various functions of the car using voice commands” would be easier to implement.

Now, the benefits of cloud computing are plenty (See: Which Cloud Computing Quality Works for you? ), and the automotive industry, like any manufacturing industry, will find a lot of these benefits in direct alignment with their needs. In addition to improving existing processes, cloud computing can open new windows of opportunity as identified by Mark Benioff in Part 1 of this article. Finally, for the car itself, this technology will enhance user experience and possibly, make fully autonomous cars possible one day.

When Henry Ford built the Model T, he could not envision anything like computers. In fact, when Steve Jobs released the Mac in the 1980s, even he would have been loath to believe that today’s cars would have computers hundreds of times more powerful than the Mac. However, like every sphere of human activity, computing has made things better. And now, cloud computing is here to improve computers in general, and by extension, the cars that use them.

By Sourya Biswas

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