The synergistic potential of connected cars and connected homes

In an increasingly connected world powered by smart technologies and data ubiquity we are moving towards a new era of connectivity encompassing phones, cars, homes and everything in between. This trend is only likely to accelerate…

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What does that mean for the future of connected cars and connected homes, and how can we leverage the inherent opportunity?

The connected car market is growing fast at a CAGR of 24%, with more than 350m cars expected globally, accounting for almost a quarter of all cars by 2023 (CapGemini). McKinsey forecasts the total global value of connectivity to be between $450–750 bn by 2030. Meanwhile, the worldwide shipment of smart home devices is expected to exceed 1 billion units globally by 2023 (BusinessWire). This proliferation of smart home devices and increasing connectivity in cars is propelling us towards a future in which the two are integrated, with greater customisation as well as enhanced ease and convenience for users. Changing consumer preferences such as increasing environmental consciousness, a desire for greater control and customisation as well as a need to stay connected could further fuel this transition.

With smart speakers already establishing their role as a central device in homes, could intelligent personal assistants also be the future of cars and consequently bridge the gap between the home and the car?

In this article we explore what the emerging technology landscape looks like, what a future with connected cars and connected homes could hold and where opportunities may lie for various players across the automotive, data and energy sectors to capture value in this new world.

Innovation in the connected cars and smart homes landscape

Today, consumers can already benefit from smart speakers that bring a wealth of infotainment to the home and to their cars. We are seeing a convergence of smart homes and car infotainment with the likes of Apple and Google providing products across these two ecosystems. Smart thermostats and home energy management systems, such as Hive, can also optimise energy consumption and reduce cost. Consumers can also leverage voice-activated lighting, security systems and smart appliances. As technology advances, we can expect home products to become smarter, gathering data on users for preconditioning and automatically complete actions leading to a truly intelligent home.

Similarly, new innovative technologies and connected services are emerging in the automotive industry as well.

Smart phone mirroring solutions have been around for several years but with wider connectivity through 4G and emerging 5G connectivity we can expect the plethora of infotainment services already available in cars to grow. The technology landscape is ripe with developments ranging from early stage commercialisation of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connectivity and e-car wallets to a single biometric ID allowing for personalisation. There are also trials and pilots in progress for driver monitoring systems, gesture control, and virtual reality heads-up displays, as well as conceptualisations of transformed personal spaces powered by augmented and virtual reality.

The possibilities are endless and technological advancement, combined with a flow of data can blur the lines between the customer’s connected car and smart home enabling a truly intelligent and seamlessly integrated future.

What could this look like 5 years from now?

A new future powered by the convergence of three industries

Imagine that you wake up and it’s the year 2025. As you go about your morning, smart home appliances are preconfigured to your preferences. The front door auto-locks with a voice command and the security system is now on. Your EV, which has been participating in V2G to optimise energy costs is sufficiently powered to complete all your scheduled journeys and adjusts air conditioning and music according to your preferences. En-route, the connected car updates you on calendar changes in real-time and optimises the route. While you’re in your meeting, the parked car receives your shopping in-car, delivered directly into the car boot. At the end of the day, as you make your way back home, your smart home starts re-adjusting settings according to your ETA. You are informed about a guest at the door who you can let in via voice control from your car. At the end of the day, your car is connected for smart charging overnight, which you remotely control from your sofa.

(And all of this is before autonomous vehicles become available.)

This ease and convenience of integrating connected car and connected home systems might be only a few years away. More so than ever before, we will see the car becoming more than just a mode of transport but an extension of your personal space.

Now indulge yourself and imagine what a truly connected and autonomous future could look like. Advanced biometric recognition could allow cars to auto-personalise settings for each consumer when they enter. Augmented reality heads-up displays and augmented interiors could change to suit your needs. With expected growth in Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) business models and increasing autonomy, there could be a move away from personal ownership to on-demand mobility solutions (Arthur D Little). Using advanced cameras and sensors, the car will self-schedule on-demand maintenance or a quick charge top-up when needed. An integrated single platform would help manage scheduling and billing for multi-modal solutions across a household.

Connectivity and smart devices are disrupting every aspect of the home and car, and indeed are transforming the way we live, work and use energy.

The increasing prevalence of kWh

The way we use and interact with energy is transforming. With the dawn of the EV era, the kWh will be as common in the transport industry as it is in households today. The convergence of smart homes and connected cars could also see the integration of home and mobility bundled solutions, enhancing convenience for consumers and giving way to new business models and ways of managing energy.

Some automakers have already launched residential smart chargers for EVs that connect to rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels and home IoT for optimising and monetising energy across all devices. Many new opportunities will arise in this transformation for new services and models to capitalise on the increased flow of energy and data. For instance, in a connected and autonomous vehicle world, could car fleets be summoned to a stadium on game day to meet additional energy demands while generating revenues for their operators?

New business models to find value and capitalise on new opportunities

We are likely to see the emergence of new and different business models, and new players emerging to provide them such as:·

  • Digital service providers (IMS): companies providing digital services spanning smart homes and connected cars (e.g., peer-to-peer energy trading, infotainment, in-car deliveries, etc.)·
  • Data aggregators: bringing together home, car and customer data, which is analysed and sold to other organisations such as OEMs, retailers, insurance providers, etc. to enable the provision of customer-tailored offerings.·
  • Lifestyle/smart living-as-a-service providers (Gulf News): we could see an emergence of smart living-as-a-service models, that incorporate a range of solutions for connected devices, smart homes, cars, buildings and the consumer to provide an end-to-end smart lifestyle experience. Players in this area could provide platforms and products enabling customers to subscribe to or buy a bundle seamlessly integrating these services into streamlined offerings.
  • Hardware providers: companies across sectors installing and maintaining the sensors, actuators, user interfaces, and other hardware to enable connectivity and convergence of services across smart homes, cars and consumer electronics.
  • End-to-end solutions providers: bringing together a range of hardware and software services and solutions across energy and data to provide a holistic experience to customers. Centrica, for example, pivoted from the being the oldest energy provider in the UK to becoming an end-to-end solutions provider to enable the electrification of transportation, among other things. Centrica is already pioneering the development of products that combine state-of-the-art technologies with a world-class customer experience to create an integrated energy and transport system.

These are just some of the new and creative business models that could arise to enable adjacent industries to come together to create the ecosystem of the future while generating value for consumers.

The value of data

At the heart of this system lies the data across smart homes, cars and customers. This will be key to understanding customer preferences, changing customer behaviours, and developing new services and models to future-proof businesses while generating additional value. Partnerships across industries can be key to unlocking this hidden potential. Cross-industry collaboration – for example between companies in the automotive, information technology and utility industries – will be essential in understanding changing customer needs, enabling the convergence of traditionally siloed industries, allowing interoperability, creating new value and monetising it. However, in doing all of this, it will be imperative to protect individuals’ data and privacy if we are to sustainably enable this future which is so ripe with new possibilities.

The great convergence of the energy, transport and data sectors could truly disrupt the way we live, giving way to a cheaper, smarter, more convenient and cleaner integrated system.

Rubina Singh Biography

Rubina leads on e-mobility technologies and innovation at Centrica Mobility Ventures. Her previous roles span across technology development, setting up a new EV division and running cleantech innovation programs having worked in the UK, USA and Australia. She has published several papers on distributed energy technologies in international journals including IEEE, TechCrunch and PV Tech Power and is a regular speaker at international conferences. She has a M.Eng. in energy systems engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a B.Eng. in electronics and sustainable energy engineering from the Australian National University.