Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (4 of 4): The Car as a Platform

Connected-CarThis year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has seen the maturation of a relatively new category of hardware and software integration: the connected car. Our cars are quickly becoming platforms the same way our computers and tablets are.

Smartphones have introduced us to “app culture.” We are quickly adjusting to including these small tools into our daily lives. We tweet, chat, take photos, share experiences, look up information, journal our health, and photograph and deposit checks.

For the last few years Ford, BMW, and Toyota have been working on integrated solutions that bring app technology to our car’s console. These systems, often referred to as “embedded,” are bridging our connected digital world with the somewhat sequestered automotive one.

What does a connected car do for a driver? The more straightforward applications include: entertainment from your cloud-based library and streaming services, and location-based services that present your favorite foods at key times or special coupon offers as you run your weekly errands. These are low-hanging fruit for app developers.

The application program interfaces (APIs) released at this year’s CES offer developers access to systems within the car: environmental conditions, braking and acceleration information, climate control status. All of these are useful information if we are keeping our drivers and their passengers safe. Inconsistent acceleration and braking may be signs of an alertness issue or, if a patient is recovering from cardiac complications, signs of a heart attack.

For a diabetic patient or family member, access to blood sugar status can help families remain proactive in their health. With an API like the one that Ford announced for their SYNC software, patients using an insulin pump can be alerted to changes without being distracted from their driving. This same technology can help monitor time behind the wheel without stopping and encourage an appropriate break from a long road trip.

Patients who have implanted defibrillators can also benefit from communication between the car and patient. In the event that such a device is triggered, the car can be brought to a stop or perhaps even “driven” to safety.

The “Internet of things” has become the vernacular for devices, like our cars, that communicate with the devices around them. Automotive manufacturers that are releasing their APIs are not only ahead of the curve, but are also extending their value to consumers and the public at large.

What it means to pharma

As devices like our phones and cars become aware of one another and their owners, there will be an increasing focus on how our personal behavior can be used to improve our lives. Healthcare (and personal health) is quickly becoming the focus of many new innovations. Our calories are being counted, our walks cached and calculated. All of this data can now be used to create profiles and predict outcomes that result from good and bad behaviors.

Pharma will have a difficult time accessing people’s personal data, but being able to help physicians and healthcare professionals interpret and find insight from this data will be an easy pathway to improved wellness and superior outcomes.

Keep an eye out for the first round of apps and programs that begin to combine data using APIs and help tailor services to those healthy and ill. Sooner than later, our devices and electronics will be advising us to have a hot cup of soup to ward off the sniffles.

Next steps

There is no reason to sit idly by while the revolution of connectivity happens at CES and in the coming year. The benefit to APIs is the creation of an accessible platform developers can leverage to quickly and easily get projects off the ground and into market.

Reach out to your agency, internal teams, and technical experts and see what they’re excited about. Challenge these teams to think about and build solutions that can work with your patients and customers. We have an entire team of experts who are excited to share their ideas and vision with you and your entire team.

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