Last year saw many industries take further steps to focus on incorporating connectivity and increased levels of personalisation in their products and services, says Andrew Till, vice president of Technology & Marketing at HARMAN Connected Services.

Customers and end users have made it clear that they want to invest in relationships that will bring them benefits such as efficiency and convenience – and now the automotive sector is responding too. While data collection and analysis have been part of tracking a car’s performance and monitoring when parts might need replacing, new connected car technologies are enabling new abilities that can see a car connect with third-party solutions external to the car. However, while these new services and technological integration offer a lot of promise, for that to be turned into a reality there needs to be the correct infrastructure put in place.

Supportive infrastructure

The focus now for automotive manufactures needs to be provide supportive infrastructure which should include, real-time, cloud-based, securely connected services. By utilising these cloud services automotive manufacturers can dramatically increase the number of use cases that connected vehicles can support, as cloud platforms can work both with a car, but also other external data sources too. This can then lead to services becoming increasingly advanced and tailor-made to a particular individual.

As such, these can include new services such as smart transport solutions and monitoring capabilities that learn and remember your own driving style and particular preferences. Furthermore, this is only the tip of the iceberg, with future features including the addition of several value-added services, such as shopping and multimedia content streaming (e.g. video or music) directly from a vehicle.

For instance, imagine that as you arrive at an airport on holiday and head to the car rental desk you are led to your waiting car where your own personal driver profile is instantly downloaded to the vehicle. The car then adjusts itself accordingly so that it is set up exactly as you would want according to your specific preferences.

Turn the key and your music and podcast playlists from your smartphone are instantly available and synced to the sound system. When you input your destination, the navigation system analyses real-time traffic light information to factor in the frequency of when the lights will turn yellow or red. This information is then used to find the fastest route possible and thus minimise time wasted in traffic.

However, while this vision of our automotive future sounds promising, powering all of it will create a number of new security challenges that should be addressed pre-emptively. We now need to think beyond just protecting the hardware that lives inside a vehicle and think of the entire ecosystem.

This should include not only the car, but the cloud and app infrastructure and any third-party data feeds that are part of it. By deploying identity management in a vehicle it can ensure it is able to understand who and what it can exchange data with. For example, the car will know that it can talk to a given cloud server and which application program interfaces (APIs) can be interacted with and what data they can share.

Furthermore, the vehicle will also understand other key signals such as the normal pattern of behaviour, including the time of day and frequency of interactions, as well as the type of data exchanged. It will also be able to detect abnormal behavioural patterns too. This comprehensive set of capabilities creates a trust, verify-based approach that ensures data and information are shared securely.

Identity management

Identity management will become increasingly important as the automotive sector continues to roll out new services and consumer-focused features. As cars begin to speak to other devices such as smart homes a trust-based relationship will be key to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience. As you leave the house, for instance, your car would be able to send instructions to your home to turn off lights, and activate your alarm system.

Andrew Till

This relationship could function both ways, allowing your home to send alerts to your car. After seeing friends at the weekend, your smart refrigerator could check what food you have at home, offer recipe ideas or remind you to pick up milk as you drive past a supermarket.

For all of these great features to work and tie together and offer trusted-based services, identity management is a requirement and needs to be put in place on the production line, as the vehicle manufacturer will be able to fully verify the installation. By installing this technology at the production phase, it will also allow vehicles to be pre-configured for secure relations with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and cloud services and can be fully integrated with other security mechanisms within the vehicle.

The future for the connected car is very promising and exciting for customers and manufacturers alike. With trust-based services in place, we will soon live in a smarter, interconnected world that offers us true value.

The author of this blog is Andrew Till, vice president of Technology & Marketing at HARMAN Connected Services

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