The connected car concept you didn't see at CES 2014

CES 2014 was all about connected car.

The headline announcement came from the The Open Automotive Alliance where Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai all moved to standardize on Google’s Android OS for their infotainment systems. This came on the heels of Apple’s ‘iOS in the Car’ announcement at this year’s WWDC.

We don’t believe an Apple or Google-led initiative is viable as neither company is incented to interoperate with the other – in fact their aim is to destroy one another. But, the devices that passengers bring into the car are varied, so an OS agnostic experience is key to a great user experience.

This is where we think companies like BlackBerry owned QNX missed a big opportunity at CES. They’re in a unique position to build a cross-platform connected car experience that ties the ecosystem together. Instead, they showed off car engine noises (which can be had for $40 on Amazon) and were notably left out of the party.

So we set out to design a connected car experience in a concept called The HIVE – where any passenger on any device platform can contribute to the connected car experience and we built a demo on iOS, Android and BlackBerry using our new You.i Engine.

Introducing The HIVE

The HIVE is a cross-platform connected car concept. At the centre of the platform is a cloud-based knowledge bank assembled through interactions between passenger devices, the car and the driver. The HIVE uses it’s collected data to enhance the experience for everyone in the car – everything from in-car diagnostics to navigation and infotainment.

The Archive and Timeline

For a connected car to truly be ‘smart’, it should build a database of knowledge over time, and use that data to inject value back into the passenger and driver experience. With The HIVE, both the car and and passenger devices contribute data points to the car’s archived timeline. Everything is logged from car location, routes, music, videos and vehicle diagnostic details as well as custom messages and photos.


There’s been a tremendous lack of innovation in traditional in-car GPS systems when compared to mobile navigation apps like UBER and Waze.

With an ecosystem of devices connected through The HIVE, passengers can assist the driver by pushing locations to the car’s onboard GPS system – a safer alternative for the driver. The HIVE makes it simpler and safer to find the nearest burger joint on a road trip with friends, locate grocery items with the help of your spouse at home or avoid that ugly traffic jam.

The historical data is an amazing resource for the car. For instance, the car would now know that everyday around 4:00pm you commute home, analyze your route and present alternative options to get you there on time. The HIVE mobile app could then recommend options 15 minutes before your commute allowing you to accept and push the route to the car. For Canadians like us, that means no more fiddling with GPS devices when it’s thirty below outside.


Audio is a major part of the in-car experience. There is once again an opportunity to aggregate media from any source – traditional radio, satellite, streaming or direct from a smartphone – and share it with everyone in the car. The days of a single in-car dj are over!

With The HIVE, all passengers in the vehicle can queue songs to the shared playlist – like a community jukebox in the car.

The opportunity again lies in the data. Once The HIVE has captured the historical data in the cloud, the car owner can filter by date or trip and build a memorable playlist. This could easily lead to additional song purchases by the car owner after hearing a song played by another passenger.


The family vehicle is now a place where kids watch a high volume of movies and TV shows (even on trips to the corner store and back). And increasingly, viewing takes place on BYOD tablets and mobiles.

Our video concept in The HIVE brings together content stored in the car, in the cloud and on passenger devices, for everyone to share through the car’s HIVE app. Passengers can tune into one another’s viewing session and share the experience at the same time, or watch videos on their own.

The HIVE app logs passenger viewing habits in the cloud and adds to the app’s historical timeline. With all this new data, the car can make useful decisions or recommendations to passengers. For example, the car could now extend a purchase option to passengers that don’t own a movie or recommend a destination point to a theatre nearby playing the sequel to a movie your kids are watching in the backseat.


This archived data could be a tremendous source of value for both QNX and their auto maker partners. Together they could build a cross-platform experience that uses aggregated data to enhance the in-car experience, build sticky relationships with customers and open new monetization channels.

A recent quote from Thilo Koslowski at Gartner Inc. supports our thesis:

“That’s where I see some potential tension going forward … to attract partners like Apple, but at the same time still hang onto that overall customer experience. If that’s being given away to somebody like Apple, then it won’t be much left for the automotive industry to succeed in the connected-vehicle space.”

Agree or Disagree?

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