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Espresso of Innovation: Smart Cars

By Dan West, innovation manager, Draftfcb UK
Hello and welcome to this week's Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week we put the AR in car.
Having just watched Fast and Furious 6 (I know I shouldn’t admit to it but it has fast cars and explosions – what’s not to love!) I thought I’d write about what exciting things are happening in the car market. And as expected there have been some fantastic innovations – especially around marketing and tech.
Results show that twitter can fuel car brandawareness and consideration but how about tweets that fuel your journey? Minddrive motors and students in education programs for ‘at risk’ teenagers have actuallypowered a car with them. The number of tweets, likes, views and shares on the social media channels of Minddrive and its sponsors will effectively control whether the car's motor engages or not – a great way to bring their work to life.
Another great example of using social media to demonstrate your message comes from VW. To showcase their latest model, which includes start/stop technology allowing the car to only start when it is needed, they have created the first YouTube video that only plays when you’rewatching it.
Meanwhile, Audi has taken the integration of smartphones and the car another step further by offeringa car with a data plan. Now you can access the Internet directly through your car with T-Mobile as well as creating a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 phones. We are seeing personal hotspots coming more and more prevalent allowing for more powerful applications. With automotive telematics soon to becomecompulsory in the UK we can learn so much more about drivers, with the obvious effect being insurance plans. However, with the ever-expanding Internet of Things we may see a future where the car connects with a digital screen in a petrol station to recommend a KitKat if the driver needs a break after having driven a long distance.
In other smart car news, Mercedes have used the friendly QR code to enhance safety in their cars. It allows rescue crews to be able toinstantly access the car's schematics. This simple element shows Mercedes as an innovative brand that cares about your safety. And from QR to AR asInglobe Technologies released a demo last week of their new AR app that teaches a hopeless mechanic to be a full-blown grease monkey. No more expensive trips to the dealer as we become more DIY savvy.
And for all of you wondering where the flying car from Back to the Future is, well it’s only 8 years away according toTerrafugia. They are in the process of making the TFX which will mean you can fly anywhere you want. It will have an autopilot mode, vertical take-off and come with complimentary parachutes. Unfortunately we will still need roads though.
The car market is an exciting place for innovation. With arguable little to differentiate their cars from their competitors, brands have to come up with innovative ways to entice customers to choose their product – either through incremental advancements to the car itself (like keyless entry) or the way it is marketed. As one of the industries badly hit by the recession it is great to see these manufacturers come out the other side fighting and this is an industry to watch.