Monday, 19 January 2015

Smart Mobility Tracking: Ford Experimenting With Big Data in a Big Brother Kind of Way

Ford has a plan, nay, an ongoing effort to leverage the latest in communications and data-collection technology to make life better for you, the hapless schnook just trying to get from place to place. It’s called the “Smart Mobility” plan, and at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford CEO Mark Fields dropped some fresh news on the endeavor.
In sharing Ford’s Smart Mobility updates, Fields employed lofty language, referring to the plan as being part of a “higher purpose,” focused on “driving innovation;” he added that Ford is not just a “product” company, but a “mobility” company, too. (Which reminds us of the time when a German VW employee, who, when asked why so many of the company’s events seem to include dancers, replied with the straightest face imaginable: “Volkswagen is a mobility company, and dance is a form of mobility.”) Anyway, aside from the introduction of Sync 3, which as we’ve come to find out, is much better than the execrable MyFord Touch infotainment system, Ford is engaging in a number of mobility-oriented experiments that range from the interesting to the spooky.
Though the total number of experimental programs apparently stands at 25, the company only outlined about half of them at CES. They run the gamut from from mapping uncharted parts of Africa to remotely piloted golf carts, and the range of projects seems just unfocused enough to seem seriously interesting. Here is a detailed account of the 11 projects Ford debuted:
Of utmost concern to privacy hounds is the project in which 200 of Ford’s employees have allowed the company to gather their driving data. Besides being something that Henry Ford would’ve approved of—or even relished, at least for his unionized employees—the experiment will be used to illuminate movement patterns that can help Ford understand how the populace generally uses vehicles. The connected world is only going to get more connected, folks, and the only way to opt out, it seems, is to drive something ancient and leave your phone at home.