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In-Car Internet On Verge Of Becoming Reality

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Survey says car executives say infotainment in cars almost as important as safety

A survey carried out by KPMG has revealed that the world’s top car manufacturers believe that in-vehicle internet access is close to becoming a reality.

The study said that trends such as speech-recognition and internet through Wi-Fi and 3G connections will become the rule rather than the exception in the near future.

Infotainment almost as important as safety

More than a third of the 200 executives questioned said that they believed car “infotainment” in cars was nearly as important as safety. The survey predicted that car buyers will see gadgets from the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft as car manufacturers join forces with IT companies.

“The recent collaboration between Toyota and Intel was announced at last year,” said KPMG’s Jon Leech. “Intel claims that the connected car is the third-fastest growing technological device, following smartphones and tablets. For a car maker that offers huge potential.”

“The connected car concept is well and truly here,” he added.

However McAfee, which has previously warned of the increased security dangers posed by the use of technology in cars, has warned that the rise of the connected car will expose the automotive industry to the same threats as any other consumer device.

Security Risks

“The industry has form. The first remote keyless entry systems did not implement any security and were easily compromised,” commented McAfee EMEA’s chief technology officer Raj Samani. “As more and more digital technology is introduced into automobiles, the threat of malicious software and hardware manipulation increases. Wireless devices like web-based vehicle-immobilisation systems that can remotely disable a car could be used maliciously to disable cars belonging to unsuspecting owners.”

“Infotainment systems often run standard software for embedded devices that is widely available, whereas other embedded units in a vehicle run mainly proprietary or specialised software,” he added.

The importance of in-vehicle infotainment has been demonstrated by RIM’s acquisition of specialist QNX Software Systems as well as Toyota’s membership of the Linux Foundation in order to provide open-source in-car systems.

In May last year Ford announced plans to introduce technology into its Focus range of cars that would allow UK customers to surf the internet from their seats. The service, due to arrive at some point in 2012, would essentially make the car a moving Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing enabled devices to access the network.