The Idea Next Arrow

On The Hub, Thomson Reuters (TR) corporate intranet, I read, The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry 2015.  Very interesting read, especially in regards to innovation.  Especially for someone working in Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Properties division in Bingham Farms, Michigan (Detroit).  And, especially for someone who grew up in the Motor City where nearly EVERYONE was somehow tied-in with the automotive industry and culture.

Even in my early professional career, nearly every assignment, project, customer and client was tied to cars and trucks.  Detroit is home not only to all the domestic car makers, but also to numerous 1st and 2nd tier manufactures and suppliers.  And all carmakers have some presence in Detroit.  Every mad men ad agency had an office, if not headquartered in Detroit.  For every single automaker job, there was 15 support, supplier and peripheral jobs.  There was HUGE money in automotive... and there still is.

So the first question I asked myself after reading The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry 2015 was, "How come Thomson Reuters doesn't have an Automotive division?"  Maybe there is?  There's certainly the Bingham Farms office, but that's basically patent filing. Thomson Reuters is The Answer Company. A huge information company. Why no tie-in with Detroit?  Having recently done a lot of research of Thomson Reuters products in conceiving The Big Idea Architect, I started thinking about how TR might serve automotive.  What kind of TR technology might apply?  What kind of products and services?

One of the hot technology commodities in automotive right now is the "center stack."  That is the console with all your radio controls, reverse camera, climate control, infotainment, etc.  Likewise hot, the dashboard cluster and heads up display (HUD).  These are all being rethought and reinvented to integrate all the wonderful, technological innovations surrounding them.

The last few years this commodity has been opened up to lots of entities relatively new to automotive: Apple and Google to name two.  Apple has developed CarPlay allowing integration of Apple's iPhone to the center stack and all the great "app" opportunities this will allow.  Google likewise with Android Auto.  Microsoft is trying to do something similar for its Windows phones.  And automakers are accommodating and already planning factory integration with several automobile models in 2015, and as many as 40 models in 2016 and 2017.  CarPlay has already been introduced with favorable reviews to the center stack via Pioneer's AppRadio, Alpine's iLX 007 and Kenwood's DDX9702S and DDX9902S receivers.  A big aftermarket community is clamoring for automotive/smartphone functionality.

Because of the great potential, automotive innovation in this field alone is going to take huge leaps forward!  Numerous app designers are already creating "car" apps.  Lots of music apps: iHeartRadio, Spotify, CarMediaPlayer.  Navigation apps: DashCommand, Extra Mile, Waze.  And a growing list of other music and navigation apps, as well as driver assist, video, social networking, various productivity and utility apps.

How can Thomson Reuters fit in?

To me, the first and obvious Thomson Reuters app might be Reuters News for Broadcast News, Newswire and Picture Service.  There already exists a news app for CarPlay: Top Headlines lets you listen to today's top headlines from Sky News, NDTV India, Yahoo News and The Week.  But, Reuters News is Reuters News.

The next choice for a TR app might be financial services: Eikon.  Eikon and Eikon Messenger, as well as Lipper, Elektron and PointConnect.

"We absolutely have to look at the automobile as a content delivery device, just as we would consider a phone, tablet, or PC. You have done a great job identifying just how we might best deliver that content."

—Product Innovation Manager
Eagan, Minnesota

Other TR app possibilities?  Legal could certainly place a spot.  WestlawNext, Practical Law, CLEAR, Title Search, and Serengeti Tracker could all be of benefit to those constantly in transit.

Life Sciences perhaps?  Cortellis, Drug News, BioWorld, Medical Device Daily, and MetaCore could all place great potential for productivity to people who spend lots of time in their cars and trucks. Not full functional applications, put very handy and helpful apps.

What about Intellectual Property where I work?  Sure.  Thomson Innovation for sure.  Compumark, MarkMonitor, and Techstreet could be useful.  And even Thomson IP Manager in limited capacity.

And, this doesn't even yet take into considerations all the NEW possibilities from Thomson Reuters existing products, data sources and technologies synthesized with other technologies such as near field communications, augmented reality and perhaps volumetric 3D displays.  What do you get?  A map that not only shows you a 3D visual of the world immediately in front of you, put clicking or commanding will tell you what the building is, it's historical info, what business(es) in it, info on the business (hours, menu, photos), parking info... and not only immediately around you, but zoom a mile down the road too.

"John - I think this is fantastic! ...maybe we could consider some options for a small POC."

—Technical Department Manager
Bingham Farms, Michigan

Now the question arises, yeah sure this would be cool and all, but practical? and safe?

Yep.  A rather astounding yep!

The key being hands-off, voice command technology.  SiriAndroid Voice Command.  And the runt on the block, Cortana.  These are all already very capable technologies and rapidly developing.  And there will surely be new kids on the block, too.

The Mockup Next Arrow

ALERT examples ALERT examples ALERT examples ALERT examples

The possibilities of integrating and synthesizing these technologies is endless.  For example, using just some existing TR products:

  DRIVER:  "Siri, launch Thomson Innovation."
  (App launches.)
  DRIVER:  "Siri, new search for patents regarding automotive center stack."
  (A results list is displayed.)
  DRIVER:  "Narrow search to these filed by non-OEM manufacturers."
  (List is filtered.)
  DRIVER:  "Save these files to my search history, and email them to my assistant at the office."
  (Siri replies and confirms actions.)
  DRIVER:  "Siri, launch IP Manager."
  SIRI:  "Do you mean Thomson IP Manager?"
  DRIVER:  "Yes, of course."
  (App launches.)
DRIVER:  "Siri, show docket number G5678889."
  (Record displays.)
Download this Powerpoint presentation for a more fully, detailed process flow.
  DRIVER:  "What is the first filing date?"
  SIRI:  "There is no first filing date set."
  DRIVER:  "Send Sally at Seashore a message...'Finish docketing G5678889...'"
  (Siri replies and confirms actions.)
  DRIVER:  "Siri, let's check my tech stocks."
  SIRI:  "Would you like Eikon or Bloomberg?"
  DRIVER:  "Eikon, silly."
  SIRI:  "Wise choice."

I'm already anticipating my car communicating with my Amazon Echo in my house, that is, Siri communicating with Alexa:

ME: "Siri, have Alexa start the slow cooker, dim the lights to romantic setting,
and order a bottle of 2011 Chateau Palmer, delivered."
SIRI: "Alexa asks, 'Barry White?'"
ME: "No. A Motown station would be fine."
SIRI: "Would you like me to order flowers as well?"
ME: "YES! Thank you! Lilies! White lilies."
SIRI: "Consider it done. Actually, done."

"This is a great idea and I think it fits in nicely with the analytics that are emerging in Project Neon. It would be awesome if the HUD was proactive rather than reactive... Predictive content is what I would expect from an assistant..."

—Software Architect
Bingham Farms, Michigan

And literally just weeks or days after I wrote this above blurb Ford makes an annoucement of doing just that—communicating with Amazon Echo's Alexa.

Not even considering when autonomous, self-driving cars actually hit the scene in a big way, the desire for a "personal driving assistant" is huge—here and now.  The need and benefit is quickly matching the desire.  The 2015 Chevy Corvette is already sporting CarPlay.  Cadillac is proclaiming to have Super Cruise, a form of hands-free highway driving in some of its cars next year.  It's predicted in 2017 some cars will have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology implemented, initially with vehicles exchanging data regarding speed, location, as well as other information.  GM says 2025 will be when most cars will sport V2V technology.
 Mercedes Benz says, "Hop in."

Point is, whenever V2V is even partially implemented, drivers will be freer to engage with their cars.  And engage with their cars they will.  Drivers always have.  The center stack, cluster and HUD is a hot commodity right now and it's being reinvented.  There is tremendous opportunity for technology companies.  It seems to me there is opportunity for Thomson Reuters, as well.

The Conclusion

This is just the beginning. The Director of Advanced Product Development Program in London commented to my post, "Hi John - does Thomson Reuters have an automotive division? Perhaps not yet, but it does have Advanced Product Innovation, and we're in the process of developing... a Reuters News app for BMW!" Knew that was likely a first choice! A phone chat later with him was enlightening and encouraging.

There was a lot of the exchanges and interest around this post and the idea of car apps. Many of my colleagues from around the globe all started sharing some great app and functional ideas too: traffic pattern analysis to determine heavy traffic spots and vacancy predictions for parking, hotel rising rates, alternate routes; individual driving data; car performance data; an immediate lawyer and representation should one be pulled over or involved in an accident; use of the reverse camera to store a set time worth of video data to provide evidence of a rear impact, likewise with a forward pointing camera; using predictive analysis having a personal assistant who gets to know your habits.

Likewise for years I have been really geeked with the all the possibilities of converging technologies revolving around automotive. Really sets the mind reeling with ideas. Imagine pulling up to a gas pump (or electric charging station), the pump syncs with your car via near field communications, beacon or like technology, communicates with your smartphone (or watch, or car), can tell you are from out of town, and from your sleep habits and awake activity predicts it's near bedtime for you. So as you are pumping, lets you know there is a hotel to your liking down the street, offers a discounted booking service, books the room for you, suggests breakfast spots and points-of-interest recommendations for the morning—all while your gas is pumping. Your printed receipt sports a QR code to use as a room key. Very doable with even existing technologies. Or, you are driving through a town, a navigation map displays your route in camera-view via augmented reality. Popups from buildings show what the buildings are, their history, what businesses occupy them, menus, event calendars, etc.

This is all just the beginning, yet we are at the future!