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The appeal of Connected Cars at the Mashable Social Media Day Italy: the new on-board digital revolution. What about tires?

Enrica Lazzarini

Late October 2016 in a sparkling Milan: at 8.20 in the morning, in front of the European Institute of Design, a long line of enthusiasts forms to access one of the most interesting events in the digital world.

Milan was once again the perfect showcase of the Italian Edition of Mashable Social Media Day, two days of up-date and training designed to analyze and closely observe business models and processes through successful case studies illustrated by a few sector specialists.

Among these, an event dedicated to vehicle connectivity could not be missing, including an overview of the changes taking place throughout the automotive industry and related sectors.

As we know, the world of connectivity applied to passenger vehicles is moving at a great pace,  with an eye fixed on safety and the opportunities offered by Advanced driver assistance systems. Cars too will become increasingly hyper-connected and bordering on the virtual, especially since onboard connectivity is fast becoming an essential added value.

Since the early 50s, the car of the future has been considered nothing more than a pop icon, changing the popular idea of what was considered as “technology of the future”: if in the past, people had visions of cars speeding along at over 1,000 km/h, nowadays, we’re all convinced that it will drive itself. Or just about.

But why so much talk about automotive and connectivity in a marketing and digital event? What additional value can this provide for all the main actors in the industry?

Beyond the walls of our offices and factories there is a world of connected young men and women, raised on bread and Internet, who know and take advantage of the latest technologies with disarming ease. They are the authors of new innovative ideas that, whether in a garage or anywhere else, are creating new software capable of reshaping the future helping the interaction between car components and devices like never before.

Among the first to spot the current trends we find vehicle manufacturers, who, not surprisingly, unveil their latest technological developments not only during international Motor Shows, but also at a consumer electronics trade fair in Las Vegas where the trendiest innovations in the sector are displayed.

Any news on connected tires? Well, here too things are looking rather interesting. In fact, the focus towards startups is very high indeed: from software designed to monitor and automatically inflate tires - for commercial vehicles and trucks – to software aimed at analyzing, monitoring and optimizing the energy efficiency of the whole vehicle, with a view to saving energy and protecting the environment.

An interesting example of synergy between startups and large producers is the American startup Aperia Technologies which, thanks to a Halo device, anchored to the rim of each tire, is able to monitor the tire pressure and, if necessary, automatically inflate it, guaranteeing savings of up to 2,400 $ per year. The company, created back in 2010, following the idea of two students of mechanical engineering at Stanford University, has already established a partnership with Michelin for the North American market.

Considering the matter from a consumer's point of view, what will change then in our connected driving experience? For starters it should be safer, a zero accident future;  greater mobility with the prospect of spending less time stuck in traffic, which will have an immediate impact also on the environment, with a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions; greater social sustainability as people with physical disabilities will be able to easily get around without having to depend on others.

And now, entertainment, or better still, infotainment, where the information collected by connected cars becomes entertainment, and much more. On average, we spend 300 hours/year behind the wheel: during all this time, the car will be able to collect infinite quantities of valuable data, which, once processed, will enable authorized agencies to predict every driver’s preference and behavior (traffic and mobility). Connectivity, therefore,  becomes a fundamental marketing lever based on user data acquisition and interpretation.

According to a recent McKinsey research, presented during the Smart Mobility World event, the automotive sector is experiencing an exponential growth in the use of IT technologies:  41% of the motorists interviewed, in fact, admitted to being quite prepared to "betray" their favorite car brand in favor of one with higher technological contents, while according to data issued by Cisco in the Visual Networking Index, mobile data flow has increased by 74% since last year.

All this leads us to think that, thanks to the rising number of on-board connected devices, according to Andreas Mai and Dirk Schlesinger (Cisco), connected vehicles will change all existing standards in the automotive industry following the example of Smartphones in the mobile phone industry

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