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Ad Age @ CES: 5 Things We Learned About The Future of Auto

By Megan Graham and Brian Braiker | January 12, 2018 |

Your car is great. It gets you where you need to go. It's a little privacy bubble. It has a radio. The only downside is that, well, you have to drive it. But not for long! (Maybe!) We spoke at CES with agencies, automakers and tech companies to find out where the industry itself is driving us.

1. If you're not driving the car, you get to do ... something else

In an autonomous-vehicle future, that time we once spent manually weaving through traffic could be spent in much different ways, says James Hodgson, a senior analyst at ABI Research. Imagine a self-driving workspace car that takes you to your office. (Rejoice in all that extra work.)

"That's a really big trend that we're seeing this year," Hodgson says. You'll be able to "repurpose that interior to support different use cases -- "mobile living space, space for productivity, even blurring the lines between, say, retail and mobile bricks and mortar where you can have a marketplace coming to you."

2. The car is a new remote control for our homes

Forget about self-driving for now. Your car can already be a remote control for your house. With auto companies integrating home assistants into vehicles, smart cars are quickly becoming an extension of the smart home, says Ted Cardenas, a VP at Pioneer Electronics. Drivers will be able to set the temperature to 70 degrees as they're on the way home and get the oven preheated while they're at it.

3. Cars are really getting to know you

Imaging systems, like those built by Vayyar, are using sensors to monitor the bodily functions of their drivers to determine things like whether a motorist is nodding off behind the wheel. While the privacy component might be thorny, Vayyar CEO Raviv Melamed argues that sensors will be designed to be non-invasive.

4. This message is brought to you by ... your car

Stacy DeRiso, chief operating officer at media agency PHD USA, says that cars are increasingly becoming effective marketing channels. Yelp, for example, is integrated into connected systems, and companies like Spotify and Pandora are starting to customize playlists for what they know about a driver. "Thinking about these as media experiences or media platforms for that matter is a new place we're going," she says.

5. Agencies and their auto clients are leaning into AI 

"Several years ago, we had a dozen models, now we have over 100 different variants -- "so how do we come up with getting the right model to the right person for the right reason?" asks Gabe Dunn, media communications manager at BMW of North America. "Is it safety; is it performance; is it luxury? Is it a person in a warm weather climate or a cold weather climate? What's the weather going to be like that weekend? Is it going to rain?"