Education

Connected World magazine

 
IssueMarch/April 2012
DepartmentCover Story
AuthorPeggy Smedley, Editorial Director
 ARTICLE
 
K.I.T.T.: The Past Marks the Future
I remember watching a TV series in the 1980s called “Knight Rider” about this amazing, intelligent talking car known as K.I.T.T., starring David Hasselhoff. This awesome talking car demonstrated the future of intelligent cars, but went far beyond what most of us would ever have thought possible. However, every time Michael Knight jumped behind the steering wheel we all dreamed of possessing his slick, black two-door Pontiac Trans Am with all the high-powered computerized tech.
I remember watching a TV series in the 1980s called “Knight Rider” about this amazing, intelligent talking car known as K.I.T.T., starring David Hasselhoff. This awesome talking car demonstrated the future of intelligent cars, but went far beyond what most of us would ever have thought possible. However, every time Michael Knight jumped behind the steering wheel we all dreamed of possessing his slick, black two-door Pontiac Trans Am with all the high-powered computerized tech.

It wasn’t too long ago that color, tires, and engine were enough to rev up our motors when thinking about our dream cars. It wasn’t our dad’s engine we most admired—it was our grandfather’s. And still today, true car buffs look back in awe when talking about the hot rods of the ‘60s and ‘70s. They toss out words like four-on-the-floor transmission, a four-barrel carb, twin exhaust, heavy-duty springs, and shock absorbers. These traditionally have been the words that caused hot rodders, like “Tim, The Tool-Man Taylor,” to grunt with joy and envy.

Now leap forward to the 21st-century car buyer and a fundamental shift is starting to grip every part of our lives, even our vehicles, and it’s about intelligence and convenience. These are the things today’s car enthusiasts are envisioning. It’s more than just good-looking wheels. We think what this technology has done is couple power and performance while leveraging the best of what is out there from a computing, content, and communication technology standpoint, ultimately bringing it together in ways that enhance what the feel for driving is in the vehicle.

With the birth of the computer age and wireless communication we have seen in-vehicle connectivity come to life in our cars, which was once only left to the imagination of TV and movie writers. Today, engineers and designers have created some pretty cool tech that enables us to zoom right into the communication age, all from inside our vehicles. It’s no wonder the high-tech gadgetry of these new connected cars focuses on two main themes: safety and infotainment, and it’s well beyond the creativity of the snappy one-liners written for K.I.T.T.

In consumer surveys, drivers say their priorities are still the same; they want to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, all while asking their carmakers to come up with fancy in-car features like voice-activated controls, Wi-Fi, temperature-controlled cupholders, and even the ability to check their Facebook status and sports scores. Most consumers admit that all of these new features, while exciting and fun, still don’t rank as high on the list of importance as safety features. And even though these are the same car buffs who request all the fun gadgetry in their cars, they recognize their most important task while in the car is to stay focused on the road ahead.

It is all of this eye-popping technology that has led Connected World magazine to want to honor the genius that has helped create high-quality vehicles that are safe, green, convenient, and wirelessly connected with our first annual Connected World Connected Car of the Year awards.
 
The four winners represent the various price points at which car buyers are purchasing automobiles today. We at Connected World applaud each of these companies for putting consumer safety in every one of the cars selected here. The editorial staff reviewed every car, in every price point that we deemed had an in-vehicle system that met our judging criteria.

While we could have selected only one overall connected car winner, it was determined that to best serve our readers we did not want to single out one specific vehicle, because that is not how consumers purchase vehicles today. Rather, we took into consideration that a consumer purchases a vehicle based on a specific price point, with the idea that the connected car of the year shouldn’t be limited to just the affluent buyer. Today, car buyers are looking for all the best in safety, convenience, and infotainment, and are doing so at all price ranges.

It is our hope that our top-four selections in the various price ranges are more helpful to today’s car buyer than selecting one automobile that only helps one vendor purely for marketing purposes. Candidly, these awards are not designed to help carmakers and OEM suppliers in their marketing efforts, but rather to pick the best vendors in the space and to narrow down your choices. With that said, what is in store for the future automobile? As carmakers continue to provide the latest advancements in in-vehicle connectivity, Connected World will introduce you to the vehicles that are the most intuitive and capable by making the right recommendations now and into the future. So sit back and enjoy the connected car ride.

Click here to read more on Connected World's Connected Car of the Year.
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