Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Collaboration, how far to go?

I have spent the last couple days in a workshop around the connected car. We have discussed how the car could be connected to the outside world in the easiest and most appealing way, and what should be done with that connection. What was really interesting is that a number of social network ideas were introduced by the attendees. This got my attention. Social networking being a form of collaboration, what could we do in the car.

Obviously we all do teleconferences from our cars, driving down the motorway, using handsfree obviously. There is a whole debate out there if the driver has the same level of attention to the road while listening/contributing to a telecon. But obviously, this was not what the workshop had in mind. Two main patterns appeared during the discussion. One related to the fact of driving itself, the other to the business interactions associated by driving.

Let me give you some ideas of both, and lets start with the driving itself. The driver is obviously not alone on the road, and anonymously may want to collaborate with other drivers, telling them about the driving conditions on his stretch of the road. Another intreaguing idea was that, if the driver entered the location and timing of his/her next meeting, the car, collaborating with external programs and information (in the cloud), could guide the driver on how to go to the location in the most fuel efficient way. Here we are no longer just speaking about people collaborating with people, but about interactions between people and programs to optimize the trafic and the use of fuel.

The second aspect, the business interactions, got started when somebody pointed out the driver may not be the only person in the car, and even if he/she was, he/she could be stuck in a trafic jam and may want to take advantage of this idle time to warn the contact, prepare the meeting etc. Another collaboration example that was identified was to have drivers and passengers updating a wiki about the locations they cross during the trip, so that others could learn more, discover new curiosities etc. A third example would be if the driver would have access to the location of other "friend", finding out how close they are etc.

So, all in all, it coudl be quite fascinating if we could find applications that make sense while ensuring the security of the driver. All in all, this will require a convergence of car intelligence and the internet, in particular the social networking side. Fascinating.