I just got back from the LA Auto Show and I am feeling very encouraged about the response received by MirrorLink and the Car Connectivity Consortium while there. In the two days dedicated to press activities, I gave over 25 interviews about and demonstrations of MirrorLink with the Sony XAV-701HD and my personal Nokia N9. It turns out that my regular use of MirrorLink in my personal vehicle – our trusty Toyota Highlander (known to the family as “McDuff”) – is paying off by helping my demo skills. It’s a lot easier to present something that I use and enjoy all the time in my own car. As the interviews begin to make their way into various publications, we’ll link to them on the http://www.mirrorlink.com website as well as to the Car Connectivity Consortium Facebook page.
There was also interest from attendee representatives from some of our member companies. Many of these folks hadn’t had a chance to see MirrorLink in person and it was gratifying to see them nod in appreciation and understanding as I ran through the demo. The universal opinion was one of “this just makes sense”. This seemed to be the case for everyone that saw a demo – and I must say that I have to agree.
While I didn’t have as much time to walk around and check out all the cool cars, I did make a few quick tours of the exhibit spaces. Looking at them brought back some great memories. One of my earliest recollections includes walking around new car dealerships with my Dad and looking at the cars. I think it was the new car smell – that mixture of rubber, paint, leather, and machined metal – that conjured up those thoughts.
Looking at the cars also gave me a chance to think about what MirrorLink is all about. I know that developing a technology to connect smartphones to vehicles doesn’t compare to the engineering, art and skill that goes into designing a complete car or truck, but it does offer some real satisfaction to those of us working in the CCC. If we do our jobs right in bringing this technology to the consumer – we’ll be helping drivers in some really significant ways.
The first thing MirrorLink will do is help those drivers keep more of their attention on the road. We know that people will use their phones in their cars – it’s a simple fact. When done improperly, it can be ill advised, irresponsible, and even illegal. If we create a way for people to drive and use their phones in a less distracting way the result is a clear win for everyone.
Secondly, the MirrorLink approach is great for simplifying the market. We’re doing something that is not specific to any model of car or phone. As this technology is deployed by a critical mass of phone and vehicle vendors the result is a much simpler connectivity environment for the consumer. In my walk around the show floor I noticed a remarkable number of proprietary technologies that work with some handsets, some car makes or even just some car models. The landscape the proprietary solutions create is completely frustrating for the consumer. Imagine a world with ten, twenty or more competing ways to wirelessly connect computers to the internet, it would be chaos!
As my time at the LA Auto Show was wrapping up I took a moment to look forward. It’s just three short months until Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where we will have our next major presence. Between now and then the CCC will continue with the huge effort to create a way for application developers to build and certify their apps for deployment in the MirrorLink world. While the work is challenging, the team behind the scenes is dedicated, talented and more than up for it. We know that when we succeed, we will change the way people use their smartphones in cars.