Last week, I attended the Telematics Detroit 2011 Conference & Exhibition at the Showplace in Novi, Michigan. Hosted by Telematics Update, the conference touts itself as being the industry’s premier telematics conference and annual meeting place for the past 10 years. Given the vast array of industry leading exhibitors present (including several current Palladium Energy customers) and knowledge communicated via the keynote speakers, I was quite excited to come back and share the details of what I learned within our organization and on this blog.
The evening before the conference was full of pre-conference excitement and buzz regarding the awards dinner that recognized the best telematics devices and services. Although I did not attend the actual awards dinner, I spent quality time discussing telematics with industry leaders and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the awards host, Ryan Seacrest — per request of my American Idol loving daughters, “Dad, You MUST get an autographed picture of him.” After an hour or so of insightful conversation and keeping a sharp eye out for Mr. Seacrest, I decided to go outside and play “paparazzi.” As you can guess, there were many last minute attendees arriving for the awards ceremony in limos. Not wanting to miss “the shot,” I proceeded to fill my camera card up with photos of many surprised passengers exiting their limo to see a somewhat large, middle aged man suddenly appear in front of them, grinning – taking their picture! Unfortunately, none of the photos were of Mr. Seacrest. Oh well, maybe some other time, kids! It was great that nobody really objected to my silly photo taking activities, all had a great sense of humor and understood my mission. In fact, many of these same attendees later gave the “Hey – I remember you!” finger point, thus making for a great conversation starter.
As for the event itself, there were many expert presentations and product-filled exhibits providing information on not only the telematics devices, but on the software/network solutions that allow for information and data to be communicated. A particular topic discussed throughout the presentations and side bar discussions was how telematics machines will (and in some cases, currently do) communicate between themselves, with car and fleet drivers, with auto dealerships, repair/maintenance shops, government/law enforcement agencies, insurance providers and other types of vehicle focused business owners – just to name a few. Furthermore, there was quite a bit of insightful discussion focusing on mobile vs. embedded devices, cloud based vs. local app-based network solutions and driver-safety vs. driver-entertainment needs.
In the most general terms, I learned that a few of the high level goals of telematics continue to center on increasing driver safety, enhancing vehicle performance, decreasing vehicle maintenance costs, increasing the driving experience and providing safe, high quality music / radio entertainment. In fact, telematics has potential to play such a huge role in driver safety that a top government traffic safety official presented his agency’s views on telematics devices at the show. He gave both sides of the story and praised navigation systems and telematics devices that provide immediate automated notification to emergency responders and law enforcement (in the case of an accident or unlawful event), but also noted his department would be on the lookout for purely entertainment focused applications that distract drivers. Everyone I personally spoke with agreed with his viewpoints.
Although not synchronized, many telematics products and services are already included in vehicles — from simple GPS devices to complex crash alert and car/fleet monitoring systems, to vehicle performance enhancers, to home/vehicle linked entertainment systems, to vehicle maintenance warning devices –- and much more. Whether or not all get implemented into all vehicles in one harmonious system will be a matter of cost, consumer demand, technological know-how along with business, government and consumer advocacy group cooperation.