Autonomous and super-connected cars of the future are going to collect a whole lot of data on passengers inside the vehicle—and then, of course, they’re going to monetize what they learn about you and I, in what could end up being a $33 billion industry, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by consultant Frost & Sullivan, says there’s a potential to monetize a meager $100 per car today. But—thanks in part to collective societal decisions to cede more and more power to massive companies—Frost & Sullivan says the “automotive ecosystem” of the future’s going to provide plenty of ways for companies to make bank on the data cars are collecting.
What sort of data? Bloomberg had a fine example this week:
Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.
Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded?
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Personally? I love pizza. Do I want my car to know that, though? Uh... not really?
But car companies really want you to appreciate the hypothetical in-car pizza coupon of the future, Bloomberg explains:
Automakers have been installing wireless connections in vehicles and collecting data for decades. But the sheer volume of software and sensors in new vehicles, combined with artificial intelligence that can sift through data at ever-quickening speeds, means new services and revenue streams are quickly emerging. The big question for automakers now is whether they can profit off all the driver data they’re capable of collecting without alienating consumers or risking backlash from Washington.
“Carmakers recognize they’re fighting a war over customer data,” said Roger Lanctot, who works with automakers on data monetization as a consultant for Strategy Analytics. “Your driving behavior, location, has monetary value, not unlike your search activity.”
Sure, I imagine there’s a number of you who don’t give a shit if Ford or Fiat Chrysler has an intimate understanding of where you like to shop or get drunk. But the privacy concerns are outstanding, and apparently no automakers make it easy to understand exactly what you’re signing away by getting in the seat of a hyper-connected car of the future.
A Government Accountability Office report published in July found none of the 13 carmakers in the study that collected data from connected vehicles had easy-to-read privacy notices and most don’t explain data sharing and use practices.
And if you want any reassurances from automakers, I wouldn’t exactly hold your breath. Bloomberg spoke to General Motors’ vice president of strategy, Mike Abelson, who said the automaker isn’t currently selling any data to a third party.
“We’re not considering that,” he told the news outlet, before adding a pretty damn crucial caveat: “I wouldn’t want to make a statement for forever.”
Awesome. Excited about the future yet?