The Consumer Electronics show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas every year, and is usually filled to the brim with consumer gadgets and gizmos. However, Gartner says that next year things will get bigger -- as cars take to the stage.
CES is a springboard for new, innovative technology to be introduced to the public. Gartner says that while the West has been focused on developing mobile devices -- such as smartphones and tablets -- now connecting our transport to them will become a large market.
The research firm predicts that by 2016, the majority of average car buyers will expect at least basic Web-based information availability in their new vehicles -- although this tipping point will be met in premium models next year. In addition, Gartner believes that the majority of new vehicles sold will be Internet-connected by 2020.
At CES next year, the research firm says that many companies will showcase infotainment offerings in cars, interactive dashboards and new interfaces that relay data based on a vehicle's sensors. In addition, it is expected that the event will be a discussion board for advances in autonomous vehicles.
"Until the arrival of the self-driving automobile, consumers want practical information and apps that entertain them and find the next available parking spot without wasting time and gas," Gartner says. "They like to know the location of their friends and family, but don't want to do social networking on Facebook or Twitter."
As we move beyond steel and chrome in favor of IT-based transport, the research firm says that information technology "is becoming a core element of automotive product innovation" and will eventually become as important as mechanics. Due to this, cars will become smart centers that not only keep us connected to our digital lives, but will also be able to communicate with each other -- keeping drivers safer and giving them useful information in real-time.
However, manufacturers have to be careful not to step into a creepy world where consumers feel their data and driving patterns are not being tracked. This point has to hit home, on pain of losing customers. A balance has to be maintained between the use of Big Data in a useful manner but not invading consumer privacy -- which is likely to be a top topic at CES next year.
"Being able to help consumers find a type of restaurant based on their cuisine preference provides real value without being invasive," the research firm notes. "Bombarding consumers with marketing messages because they are driving by a coffee place, on the other side, misses the point."