“Cars will have services like a smartphone”

Horst Leonberger from Deutsche Telekom believes that the connected car will be a reality sooner than we think. Together with the car manufacturers BMW and Daimler, Deutsche Telekom wants to offer between 20 and 30 services for cars like music and video streaming, LTE WIFI hotspots, real time traffic information and mobility offerings by the end of the year.

Michael Z. is taking a business trip to Munich on Monday. His flight leaves at 8:20 in the morning, and he does not want to have to get up too early. But there has been an accident on the road to the airport, and traffic is backed up for kilometers. It would be virtually impossible for Michael Z. to get to the airport on time if he were to get up when he planned. Thanks to M2M communication and intelligent networks, he is woken up on time.

While he is on the way to the airport, he can reserve a parking space and check if his flight is on time, all from his car. Michael Z. turns on his personalized radio. If he doesn`t like a song that comes up, he can select a different one with simple gestures. According to Horst Leonberger from Deutsche Telekom,

could become reality sooner than most think.

LTE hostpot in the car
Deutsche Telekom has set up a special department with around 500 employees for the networking of cars. It generates revenue in the double-digit millions. The group recently announced partnerships with Daimler and BMW that will include online services and web applications in the vehicle as well as LTE hotspots.

"We want to offer about 20 to 30 different services by the end of the year," Horst Leonberger from Deutsche Telekom told futurezone.at at the CeBIT. The BMW ConnectedDrive Hotspot was presented at the IT fair in Hanover and will be integrated into the BMW rental fleet of Sixt in Germany starting in the summer of 2013. According to the company, up to eight WIFI devices will be able to go online over a broadband connection with a speed of up to 100 megabits a second.

Online services and realtime information
The partnership with Daimler focuses on new online services and web apps in the vehicle, Leonberger explained. This includes realtime traffic information, mobility offerings and personalized radio. It will all be based on a special multimedia cockpit that is integrated into the car. "In the future, it will be possible to update the car just like a smartphone," Leonberger explained.

"Services can be booked through the vehicle cockpit. And manufacturers can communicate with the vehicle owner, as well. Just like companies such as Apple and Samsung, automakers are also interested in presenting new offerings on the screen," Leonberger said.

Music streaming for Europeans
In addition to Daimler and BMW, the connected car expert said that talks are also under way with Toyota. And the company is negotiating with Spotify to bring music streaming to the car. "We have learned from the gaming industry and want people to be able to use services like Spotify and video streaming services intuitively, for example with gestures," said Leonberger, who sees music streaming for the European market as the most important service for automobiles.

"In China, people prefer to be entertained in the car and play games sometimes, for example when they are stuck in traffic. In the USA, e-call functions are important because safety is a key concern, and in Brazil, track and trace is important because of the prevalence of theft in the country," said Leonberger, talking about the different products that Deutsche Telekom is planning for the connected car on different markets.

Not just advantages
Data protection advocates have already voiced concerns that the connected car will not only bring advantages. For example, Deutsche Telekom wants to work together with insurance companies. According to Leonberger, connected cars would make it possible to adapt insurance services depending on how aggressively or defensively a person drives.

"But there will only be a bonus system, a driver may not be punished for how he drives," Leonberger explained. And customers must switch to the model voluntarily. "People who let themselves be monitored will have advantages in the future," the expert said. In the future, the installed M2M chips should also make it possible to manage traffic better, for example by letting drivers avoid traffic jams.

Automated driving "in ten years"
Automated driving is also "practically around the corner." Leonberger thinks that such systems will be introduced gradually over the next ten years. "We already have functions like distance control and automatic parking. These are individual elements of automated driving. Further use cases will be added steadily over the next ten years," the expert said, adding that he is looking forward to when rental cars will be able to drive themselves to your door, and when electric cars will be able to drive themselves to the next charging station.