Wearable Tech and its Impact on the Automotive Industry

January 18, 2017

As the Internet of Things era continues its rapid ascension to global adoption, one technology seems to be leading the charge. Wearables are one of the world’s fastest-growing IoT technologies – U.S. adoption rose from 21% in 2014, to 49% in 2016 – and millions of dollars are being poured into research & development from all kinds of different industries.

What started out as a novel way to monitor fitness data is rapidly beginning to infiltrate both the working world, and the products and services it produces.

Few sectors have been investing more heavily in wearable tech than automotive – nearly all the major automakers have, or are currently, developing their own wearables in an attempt to optimize the driving experience.

Take a deeper look into this trend as we explore wearable tech’s impact on the automotive industry.


Automotive Wearables Today

In 2015, BMW became the first automotive app for the newly-released Apple Watch, with the introduction of BMW iRemote for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. The app allows drivers to – among other things – receive real-time insight into their car’s charging status, track the vehicle and nearby charging stations on a map, access basic controls like locks and headlights, and remotely customize temperature settings.

While BMW iRemote brought automotive wearables to the spotlight, automakers had already been developing similar apps and technology for years. Examples include:

While the design and interface of each app differs, these automotive wearable technologies all seek to deliver the same purpose – to let drivers access real-time data on their vehicle as conveniently as possible, and offer a seamless experience between product and user…down to a low-fuel notification before even leaving your house.

But, as technological landscapes and consumer habits shift, automakers are seeing the potential for much, much more.


What the Future Holds

The future of automotive wearables and connected cars has the potential to permanently change the way people drive. Automakers have begun investing in entire wearables divisions – like Ford and its Automotive Wearables Experience Lab – to develop and test the next generation of advanced technology.

These labs extend the potential for automotive wearables, with one of the most exciting trends being predictive analytics. This technology includes allowing automakers to integrate health and wellness platforms directly into vehicles. While drivers will still be able to access vehicle data, their cars will soon be equipped with the intelligence to access that data in order to predict driver habits, make lightning-fast, real-time adjustments and take over control if it senses driver distress.

Imagine you’re driving in rush hour. A fitness tracker you wear on your wrist is connected to your car, and it’s sensing that your heart rate has spiked. The vehicle then takes that real-time intelligence and does whatever it can to stabilize your stress – be it decreasing the speed on adaptive cruise control, letting Bluetooth calls and texts go straight to voicemail, etc.

Cars will soon begin to think, ‘How is my driver feeling, and what can I do to help?’

Automotive wearables could pose even greater benefits with the onset of autonomous vehicles in the marketplace. In the distant future, parking issues in cities will be nonexistent, as cars could be parked in massive lots outside city limits and be beckoned straight to its owner’s doorstep with the push of a smartwatch button.

The possibilities with automotive wearable technology are endless. Automakers and companies like TradeRev will continue to stay ahead of the curve, and new, revolutionary innovations will be coming sooner than you think.


What do you think the next generation of automotive wearables will look like? Let us know in the comments below.