Recent media coverage, including this Fast Company article and a National Public Radio segment, bemoan the demise of the glorified car culture. People of all ages are keeping their cars longer and driving less, while 16 year olds are more content to let someone else get behind the wheel. Pundits fault everything from the high cost of gas and cars to changing social mores in the digital age. Meantime the automobile industry is committed to inject new excitement into the driving experience with the backing of major technology vendors.
One example is the collaboration between SAP and Chevrolet on the second annual Connected Car Contest 2013. SAP announced the call for entries at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference being held in San Francisco from Sept. 7 to 11. University students and developers at start-ups worldwide are invited to submit their ideas for transforming the entire car experience in the following categories: traffic, fueling, public transportation, parking and the environment.
The winners will be invited to Silicon Valley where they’ll meet with technology experts, and have the opportunity to further develop their ideas. The submission deadline is Nov. 15, and the winners will be announced in early 2014. Find contest details, including pre-registration, here.
The five winners of last year’s connected car contest were chosen from more than 400 entries. This year’s event promises to be even bigger. It’s all part of SAP’s larger connected car vision. I recently spoke with Gil Perez, senior vice president of Sustainable Industries and general manager of Connected Vehicles at SAP, who told me that the company has three main objectives for achieving this vision: creating a delightful customer experience and a revenue stream for SAP and its partners, and enabling cars to conduct business.
“In the digital world, people want to seamlessly integrate their cars into their digital lives, before, during and after the car is used. This has become one of the major criteria for selecting a car. We believe we need to accelerate the creation of car services for consumers who expect this kind of experience as well as the automotive industry and ecosystem of partners.”
Indeed, SAP is partnering with multiple industries — automotive, retail, oil and gas, public sector and parking — to connect drivers to cloud-based services through their cars and mobile devices. Enabled by the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, this is a vision that transforms the entire driving experience including parking, fueling and food.
Imagine being able to find and reserve a parking spot before even getting into your car. Once en route, alerts on your car’s console not only tell you that gas is running low, but also list the closest gas stations with the lowest prices. At the gas station, there’s no need to exit the car to select the gas pump, fuel grade and amount. It’s all done from inside the car. After refueling, there’s no fumbling with wallet or cash. Payment is automatically processed. While there, you grab a cup of coffee from the station’s retail store using a discount offer texted on your mobile phone. Arriving at the parking garage, the gate automatically opens with a click from inside your car and lets you out the same way, again with automatic payment processing through your car. And, if you’ve traveled somewhere new and can’t find the garage after you’ve parked, don’t despair; your mobile device finds it for you instantly — because everything is connected.
The driving experience sure isn’t what it used to be, but the next evolution represents something just as transformational that’s tailor-made for our totally connected world.
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