So many people are glued to their smartphones and tablets when they take the train, that you almost wonder what people did on the train before the iPhone. Companies may be trying to sell us larger, better, internet-connected screens for our homes, but we cannot get enough of content on tiny displays, mediocre headphones and trains with flaky internet connections. The London Underground is introducing Wi-Fi at stations, so at least you can tweet on intermediate stations if you cannot yet in the tunnels. Wi-Fi is also increasingly popular on national rail – although sadly not yet on my line.
This demand for journeys of constant Facebook updates is one of the theories behind the rise in rail travel, suggesting there are those baulking at the comparative internet-free zone that is the interior of the car.
But while people should not be on the phone while driving, ironically their cars increasingly will be.
RAC Motoring Services has recently launched RAC Advance, a device and service which monitors your vehicle as your drive and communicates with the RAC about the condition of the vehicle – so that the first time you know there is a problem is not when you are on the side of the road in a cloud of steam.
Diet and exercise gadgets like the Nike Fuelband and the Fitbit have also transferred to the auto sector, where systems like the Automatic will, by linking with your smartphone, put your car on an eco-driving diet, at the same time monitoring vehicle condition and, when you’ve parked up, reminding you where you’ve left your pride and joy.
The European Union is also pushing a system named eCall, which would automatically alert local emergency services in the event of an accident. In essence, your car will dial 999 before anyone else gets a chance to. This would work throughout the EU.
Vehicle monitoring, road safety technologies, telematics-based insurance, music streaming to the stereo, vehicle tracking and systems for car-sharing: the future of the car is definitely internet-enabled. Now, the only question is, can I get a signal?