The next big things: Jag’s connectivity sage explains the future

Published: 26 July 2016

► Peter Virk is Jaguar Land Rover’s tech wizard
► His thoughts on the future of connectivity tech..
► … and how our relationship with cars is changing

The industry is talking incessantly about the Internet of Things [IoT: networks of connected physical objects, from cars to heart monitors] but what does it mean in the context of a vehicle? It’ll become meaningful when information is harnessed usefully, and when the services it offers are intuitive. To an extent this collaborative data exchange is already happening. Your XE knows where you are, so when you look for parking spaces in Coventry it won’t show you options in London. IoT will move this on. It’ll be a game-changer when it becomes a seamless user experience. On cold mornings in the past you had to leave the house to start your car and warm it up. Now you can pre-condition the climate control using a phone app. In the future you won’t have to do anything: your car will know when to pre-condition itself based on your preferences, past choices and day-in-the-life information. 

> Relationships with third parties will be crucial. They’re already hugely important. We’ve been building our app portfolio for just over 12 months. We bring the developers into the vehicle and mentor them on what works in a car as opposed to what works on a smartphone. These partnerships are key, and will offer huge opportunities in the future. Imagine if we’d tried to build these services ourselves! Collaboration has to be the way. 

> Data will become richer and more accurate, and this is an important stepping-stone to vehicle autonomy. Radar, cameras, over-the-air cloud information – it’s all helping move us that way. Already a Jaguar’s forward-facing camera looks at road signs and cross checks the information with the navigation. As things become more connected – anonymously, and always on an opt-in rather than an opt-out basis – there’ll be more opportunities to create these mash-ups. 

> Standards will only become more important. InControl Touch Pro and our app technology is based on HTML5, the industry software standard, to ensure easy collaboration with third party developers. And when you’re in the back of an XJ, with the screen there in front of you, why would you want to cradle your iPad in your lap? Connect it via one of the HDMI sockets. 

> Will touchscreens simply continue to get bigger? To an extent bigger is better but I’m sure Ian Callum would have an opinion! Calibration is key – the gesture and the perfect proportional response, so that when you swipe a list it scrolls just as you intended it to. 

> Our view is pragmatic. Why duplicate when you can collaborate? You always carry your phone with your favourite apps, so why not [integrate] them in-car? But the F-Pace’s Activity Key [a wristband that enables you to lock your key in the car to do watersports], that made sense – there wasn’t an existing waterproof wearable technology we could use. It made sense to innovate and fill that market gap. 

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By Ben Miller

The editor of CAR magazine, story-teller, average wheel count of three