There's actually a specific name to describe the computer and electronic technology involved in our cars -- it's called telematics. The vehicle telematics business has been changing very rapidly over the past few years, with advances in cell phones, the Internet and GPS receivers, but there are a few sections we can look at to understand the increased demand for in-car electronics.
How did some of us get around before GPS? For those of us with a terrible sense of direction, GPS receivers are great tools -- they use radio signals transmitted from satellites to send detailed maps, specific directions and important locations like gas stations and restaurants to a tiny box mounted on the dashboard. Most GPS receivers are battery powered and can be integrated into your car's audio and power systems, and their assistance have made them increasingly popular for car owners.
Constantly checking e-mail on BlackBerry devices is considered pretty standard by now, as many busy workers suffer from what's known as "ringxiety," but what if wireless technology could be integrated straight into your car? Cell phones and hands-off sets are becoming a big part of in-car electronics -- the new Land Rover LRX, for instance, has an iPhone dock that lets you control many of the vehicle's functions from the phone itself -- and some companies are producing crosses between a laptop and a GPS for more wireless connectivity. Many of these systems plan to use WiMax, the new cellular Internet based in large cities, so people can check e-mail and get directions while they sit in traffic on their way to work.
Vehicle tracking and trailer tracking
This kind of technology, unless you're a spy, is mostly used by transportation and delivery businesses that send out large fleets of vehicles and products. Delivery trucks, taxi companies and repair and maintenance companies all can use sophisticated electronics to track workers and plan out important and sometimes complicated routes. These devices can increase efficiency and cut down on losses caused by human error, so more companies will most likely be willing to spend a little extra on a decent tracking system for security.
The business of vehicle telematics and other in-car electronic systems is getting the best of both worlds -- businesses are willing to spend on advanced products for better efficiency, and consumers are looking for the easiest way to integrate all their gadgets. For lots more information on cars, electronics and in-car electronics, see the next page.