Microsoft shares its vision for the ‘intelligent car’ of the future

What does automotive technological innovation look like today, given that features such as streaming music from a smartphone and using voice commands to control the stereo and the navigation system are already standard equipment in many models?

Microsoft’s vision for what’s called the “intelligent car” is a scenario in which telematics data can help improve both the driving experience and the design of the vehicle for the driver. What does that mean exactly?

Pranish Kumar, who leads the Windows Embedded Automotive team that’s focused on developing and designing the future of Microsoft’s automotive technologies, says his team is moving away from focusing on in-dash technologies, such as entertainment or navigation systems, to solutions that power such technologies as part of an overall user experience.

It means a world in which the same information that is available to drivers today to improve fuel efficiency or vehicle maintenance – speed, braking, fuel consumption, tire pressure and environmental conditions – can be used by carmakers to evaluate day-to-day performance to improve design on next year’s model or even fine tune an engine “over the air” to improve fuel economy of the current model year. Carmakers will increasingly have the ability to provide iterative updates, much in the same way that computer software works today, that refresh the driving experience and extend compatibility to the latest consumer devices. (For example, with a Windows Embedded-based system, an unsuccessful pairing of a vehicle and a smartphone could be transmitted to Microsoft, and a solution downloaded to the car overnight.) That same data over time could be used to perform tasks on driver’s behalf, such as tuning in to a preferred radio station or rescheduling a meeting due to traffic delays. And carmakers’ “Promised Land” is being able to provide for drivers the ability to access information and services, such as an app on a smartphone or a music file on a tablet at home – from anywhere on the road.

“The automotive industry faces a lot of unique challenges, perhaps first of which is that cars must be supportable for much longer than consumer electronics devices — 10 or 20 years, in most cases,” says Kumar. “I think we’ve developed a solid understanding of some of these challenges and how technology can address them, while providing drivers with a better experience.”

Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more on the history of Microsoft’s 15-year involvement in the automotive industry, and how the combination of big data and machine learning may lead to cars that can become more responsive to your needs.

Jennifer Chen
Microsoft News Center Staff