Home Opinions The future of personalised, multimedia entertainment is in the car

The future of personalised, multimedia entertainment is in the car

Dr Neale Foster, CEO at ACCESS Europe
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Multiscreen has become the norm for the broadcast industry. However, it’s traditionally remained in the living room and focused on delivering the same content to a variety of screens connected via the set-top box or a centralised gateway. Today, the array of platforms has increased so much that consumers can access content in the home, on the go and even in their cars.

The connected car is an especially lucrative market, with in-vehicle infotainment  predicted to reach $52 billion by 2020, according to a recent BIS Automotive Report. This large market is currently untapped by the broadcast and video industry. However, with the rise of connectivity and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments, the automotive industry is looking to offer video alongside other services to passengers.

In-vehicle infotainment & the content industry

Consumers typically use their connected TV’s, smartphones, game consoles and tablets to access their favourite content or information. However, as soon as they step inside their cars, consumers cannot continue to stream their favourite TV show due to the lack of interconnection between the car and the home environment. This is leading to many wasted opportunities for engaging with consumers beyond the home and inside vehicles, especially when it comes to video content, games and audiobooks. Yet, the content industry can solve this challenge today by offering content adjusted to in-vehicle infotainment services.

In-vehicle infotainment – or ‘IVI’ for short – refers to a series of integrated systems that deliver a variety of content including information and entertainment directly in the car. Whilst each IVI system is different and performs its own function, typical tasks that can be performed with such a system include: managing and playing audible content, such as audio books, radio, or music; managing and playing video content by utilising the rear-seat entertainment screen or a tablet; displaying content such as movies, games, music videos; or traffic conditions, sports scores and weather forecasts. With the advent of these solutions, the consumer perception of the car itself is transforming, and the content industry needs to prepare to deliver content in a way that can be consumed inside of a moving vehicle. 

As consumers introduce more devices inside the car – from smartphones and tablets through to handheld game consoles and e-readers – being able to offer a seamless experience on all these screens is becoming an important new challenge for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and more specifically, the content industry. Luckily, technological advances now enable drivers to access online media content within the vehicle via the IVI system, plus consumer owned BYOD devices.

OEMs can use the mobile app ecosystems to offer highly personalised services and settings via apps and branded interfaces that are readily accessible via the head unit or the consumer device. This enables OEMs to extend their branding beyond the vehicle, improving customer engagement and preserving the brand. For content creators, broadcasters and distributors, the opportunities for increased engagement are similarly significant. It means that their content can be accessed in the car, turning the moving vehicle into an additional platform for their assets.

Key trends shaping in-vehicle infotainment strategies

The most obvious thing to notice about cars is that they are mainly used for commuting from point A to point B. We have to think about the different types of driving scenarios and the duration length of each journey in regards to the type of content and target audience suitable. For example, picking up your children from school in a spacious family friendly car for a total duration of one hour means that there is a certain amount of time and type of content that can be viewed, such as family friendly cartoon episodes or animation films. This would be drastically different from a taxi vehicle picking up a customer for a 20-minute ride inside the city, where the best options would be short-form comedic videos over YouTube, casual games or the latest weather forecast.

However, consumers will not be able to access higher quality videos and interact with content inside the car without better quality networks accessible inside the car, such as Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and the upcoming 5G rollout. 5G will play a crucial role and become a key enabler towards establishing the vehicle as a fully connected entity. It will also aid the current demand for data-heavy processes, including streaming and downloading high-resolution content. More importantly, the automotive and content industry will have to work together and ascertain the reliability of a 5G connected network, as the vehicle itself will travel long distances and at various speeds throughout its journeys.

On the other hand, the upcoming EU General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) may complicate the relationship between OEMs and consumers. These new rules can play a part in developing new, more personal best practices for infotainment services. Already in action, the new rules aim to prevent companies from sharing their users’ data with third parties. For the first time, a single set of rules applies to all companies processing the personal data of consumers residing in the European Union.

Consumer data is at the heart of the success of services like Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix – and is the crux of making in-car infotainment a success. By providing simple guidance in a user-friendly way, OEMs will be able to explain how data sharing helps create the tailored leisure experiences consumers crave and ensure that the content industry reaches the right eyeballs in the best format and at the best of times.

The car as an extension of multiscreen

As the multiscreen landscape continues to evolve, the vehicle will become part of the wider multiscreen ecosystem rather than an isolated environment. Consumers will be able to press play on one device with one particular type of content and continue that same experience within the car moments later.

However, once the connected car turns into a personalised media hub, the car infotainment unit will need to share control or revoke it from a connected device. This complicated workflow can be simplified by deploying the right technological tools, such as ACCESS Twine for Car, our solution for secure content distribution for connected car infotainment.

In-car solutions should support playback of content on the built-in devices and/or on devices brought into the car. They should be able to push content from one connected device to another and continue from the exact same point in time, while supporting end-to-end encryption at all times in order to be compliant with the studio requirements for content protection.

There is a general consensus that we are steadily moving towards a fully integrated and ubiquitous future; whereby content is seamlessly transmitted from one location to another, on the go, overcoming limitations on connectivity and without compromises on image quality. This interconnected world will supply viewers with an easy way to access external sources and their own personal library, creating a safe and reliable ecosystem. For broadcasters, now is the time to move into automotive and build stronger relationships with consumers outside of their usual living room based multiscreen service.

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