How Social Media Will Integrate With Autonomous Vehicles

Opinion: Smart cars are putting the pedal to the metal to tap into customers’ driving experiences

Sharing data is what will drive automated cars, and social media is a natural integration of that system

Imagine scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed right on the windshield of your vehicle, or even voicing a command that tells your car to read your text messages. Some of these features are already available in cars fresh off the production line, but they’ll likely become even more common as we move toward a world of fully autonomous, truly driverless cars.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs, or self-driving cars) may be fully integrated with social media—connecting automatically and seamlessly to driver profiles the minute they get into their cars. Augmented reality features could even allow drivers to connect with brands in real-time (like being able to click on a hashtag that appears on a billboard), meaning social media could also become an in-car marketing tool.

Imagine the possibilities. But they don’t stop there. Here, we explore a few of the ways social media could integrate into AVs in the future and alleviate concerns about the data privacy.

Constant connectivity

Between TV viewing, radio listening, computer use, mobile application consumption and reading, adults in the U.S. spend approximately 12 hours consuming media each day. What’s more, the average driver in the U.S. puts in more than 13,000 miles every year, according to a recent Esurance report.

If we weren’t already constantly connected via our smartphones, smart cars are putting the pedal to the metal to tap into customers’ driving experiences. By incorporating social media into their systems, AVs will enable drivers to remain even more connected than ever before.

Consumers will foreseeably be able to scroll through their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, check emails, respond to text messages and answer phone calls—all without putting themselves and others at risk—thanks to help from driverless technology.

On the other end of the spectrum, given the amount of time drivers spend in their vehicles, businesses will have an even bigger opportunity to connect with their audiences. Talk about a captive audience.

Personalized in-car experiences

Until now, all drivers on the road were receiving pretty much the same messaging via radio ads or billboards. General Motors’ new system aims to develop individualized interactions. Nor do you have to look further than Waze, which targets drivers who are near business locations for meaningful local ad experiences. GM and IBM are already making leaps and bounds with in-car marketing. Their new system is designed to deliver customized brand messages to drivers by harnessing GPS location and car data.

Suppose platforms like these also integrated data collected on social media. This would encompass personal preferences, favorite restaurants, places frequented (online or otherwise) and all the myriad digital footprints you leave behind that algorithms use to deliver personalized content.

For example, you’re driving along when you pass a local music venue, and your vehicle—with its suite of voice and text messaging—informs you that one of your favorite bands is doing a surprise show there tomorrow night. You could buy tickets on the spot, right from your car, and invite friends to come with you. One might argue that the vehicle itself will become more than just a car.

The car itself may become a social media platform

If social media is a space where websites and applications enable users to converse and network, so, too, are self-driving cars poised to be a powerhouse of interaction. After all, autonomous vehicles are inherently social. Using a suite of sensors, they’re constantly talking to each other and their drivers about speed, direction, location, braking status and so forth. Like a social media platform, they may be able to carry out all manners of messaging—whether to you or to others on your behalf.

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