For a long time, the sole purpose of a car was to take us from point A to point B as fast as traffic conditions would allow us to. However, rapid advancements in technology has led to a surge in demand from many of us – we wanna have more comfort, entertainment, functionalities, and so on in our cars than ever before. In that vein, we have come up with a wishlist of the things we would like to see (from a geek’s perspective) in cars of the future.
Just like how phones have evolved into smartphones, perhaps cars should also take a similar route and evolve into ‘smart’ cars equipped with futuristic and (more importantly) practical features. In fact, some car manufacturers have already implemented a few of these things that we’re about to mention, but it’ll be nice to see them become standard features in all cars of the future.
1. Enhanced Gesture Control
Building on the familiar existing technology of knob and voice controls, Audi, in 2011, introduced a new feature that would provide unprecendented ease in controlling a car’s functions. The new feature is called MMI touch, and is actually an enhancement for their already exisiting Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) system.
The best thing about MMI touch is that it enables drivers to input characters just by using a finger to “write” on the designated touchpad. This has a wide range of applications such as keying in addresses for navigation purposes, entering phone numbers or simply selecting songs to play. MMI touch also has support for a range of languages besides English.
Source: Mercedes Benz)
Of course, the usual knob and voice controls are still available as well – MMI touch just makes it a whole lot easier for you to access your car’s functions while you’re driving. And more recently, Mercedes-Benz has also introduced their own take on this enhanced gesture control concept.
2. Augmented Reality Head-Up Display
Having augmented reality display on a car windscreen would add a lot of functionality to the car. We would be able to see information like speed, navigation details and even the name of an incoming call with minimalistic designs on our windscreens.
(Image Source: bimmerfile)
By using an app called HUDWAY, you can place your iPhone on the dashboard of your car and navigation information (from your iPhone) will be reflected and displayed on your windscreen. It looks very cool but obviously doesn’t work under certain conditions, e.g. when the surrounding is too bright for the information to be clearly visibile on your windscreen.
Head-up displays are definitely something of the future that we should look forward to. It’ll help us keep our eyes on the road by giving us all the relevant information without having to look at a center console display or our smartphones.
3. Apps & Firmware Updates
Imagine driving a car capable of running apps that are no less powerful than what you have on your smartphone right now. For starters, there can be specialized apps for certain countries or cities that could provide local information on restaurants, malls or other places of interest for travelers.
(Image Source: Toyota)
Toyota has already introduced a concept car called Fun Vii Concept Car that can do all of the above and more. “Vii” is an acronym for Vehicle, Interactive, Internet – this concept car basically allows the driver to be constantly connected with everyone including your friends and even other automobiles. What’s more, its exterior design can even be customized as shown in this short promotional clip.
While it will probably take some time before cars like Fun Vii get to production, cars with the ability to have firmware updates have already been made available on the market. These firmware updates could improve certain features of the car including the radio, tire pressure, Wi-Fi connectivity, and charging capacity. Tesla Model S, a 100% electric car, is one car that has such firmware updates.
4. Sheet Thin Batteries
As batteries used in existing electric cars are bulky and heavy, manufacturers have to find a suitable place to put the large amount of batteries, and at the same time, ensure that the car is well balanced throughout. What will be really cool is to have batteries hidden in plain sight by replacing the cosmetic parts of a car.
(Image Source: AutoblogGreen)
These parts could be the panels throughout the car on both the interior and exterior. Manufacturers won’t have to compromise on the appearance of the car as the batteries would be thin and bendable. Although technology has yet to catch up with this vision, it’s definitely something worth looking forward to.
5. Communication Between Vehicles
Communication between vehicles doesn’t mean you can call up the car in front of you and ask it to move out of your way. It’s more like machines communicating with each other so that there’ll be smoother traffic and less congested roads.
(Image Source: TopSpeed)
This technology will also increase road safety by reducing collisions between cars. For example, your car can warn you about a car that’s coming from your blind spot. If implemented correctly, this technology will significantly increase road safety, efficiency, and driving experience.
6. Smart Fuel Saving Tips
Another cool feature to have in a ‘smart’ car is to have it give you fuel efficiency tips or notifications while you’re driving. For example, it can notify you about a nearby gas station that has cheap gas prices; so even if you still have half a tank of fuel left, it’ll suggest that you refill now to avoid paying more at another gas station when you eventually run out of fuel.
(Image Source: digitaltrends)
7. Perfect Integration With Smartphones
Something that is obviously lacking in contemporary cars is integration with smartphones. We’re not talking about being able to play music off your smartphone but more of being able to control your smartphone’s functionality through voice commands or even buttons on the steering wheel.
Honda is taking a pioneering step by integrating Apple’s Siri Eyes Free into their upcoming car models. That would basically allow you to use iOS from the dashboard of your car, letting you easily and safely make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, and get directions using built-in Apple apps.
Meanwhile, there isn’t that much going on as far as integrating Android into cars is concerned. Although Android users can get lots of functionality (Google Now, Maps) just by mounting their Android smartphones onto their car windscreens, it’ll definitely be nice to have an integrated system with the car dashboard that allows the use of buttons on the steering wheel.
8. Long Term Evolution (LTE)
As some of you may know, built-in GPS devices (in cars) work without needing Internet access. But wouldn’t it be great if we can get live traffic updates on top of the usual GPS navigation? To do that, however, an Internet connection would be required – something that many cars still don’t have support for.
(Image Source: Alcatel Lucent)
Here’s the good news: some car manufacturers like Audi have already made plans to implement Long Term Evolution (LTE) in their future car models. LTE would allow for better quality internet radio, searching for a location using pictures and faster loading of live maps. Having a dedicated LTE connection in a car can also turn the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot for people on laptops who are constantly on the go.
9. Self-Healing Paint
Self-healing paint has been around for some time now, but somehow hasn’t been implemented in consumer cars yet. Whatever the case may be, this is one cool technology – surface scratches will magically disappear after just a few minutes and your car will look like how it once was.
(Image Source: Nissan)
Truth be told, deep scratches won’t be 100% gone and some may still be visible if you look hard enough, but from a distance the car will still look as good as new.
Technological advancements have certainly surpassed our expectations of what can be integrated into cars. However, some of these advanced features we have looked at may come with hefty price tags. Nonetheless, we can still hope for a time where technology becomes more efficient and cheaper, allowing for all these cool and futuristic features to be implemented in cars of every price range.
Nokia awarded contract to build 4G network on the moon
Nokia has been awarded a contract to establish a 4G network on the moon. The contract is one of several that NASA is awarding to companies as it plans a return to the moon.
The $14.1 million contract was given to Nokia’s US subsidiary and is a small part of the $370 million total awarded to companies such as SpaceX. The cellular service will allow astronauts, rovers, lunar landers, and habitats to communicate with one another according to Jim Reuter, the Associate Administrator for NASA’s Space.
The 4G network that Nokia will build will be miles superior to the form of communication that was used during the early missions to the moon.
This is not Nokia’s first attempt to launch an LTE network on the moon. It planned to do so in 2018 in collaboration with PTScientists, a German space firm, and Vodafone UK to launch an LTE network at the site of the Apollo 17 landing but the plan never came to fruition.
Stripe acquires Nigeria’s Paystack for $200M+ to expand into the African continent
When Stripe announced earlier this year that it had picked up another $600 million in funding, it said one big reason for the funding was to expand its API-based payments services into more geographies. Today the company is coming good on that plan in the form of some M&A.
Stripe is acquiring Paystack, a startup out of Lagos, Nigeria that, like Stripe, provides a quick way to integrate payments services into an online or offline transaction by way of an API. (We and others have referred to it in the past as “the Stripe of Africa.”)
Paystack currently has around 60,000 customers, including small businesses, larger corporates, fintechs, educational institutions and online betting companies, and the plan will be for it to continue operating independently, the companies said.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but sources close to it confirm that it’s over $200 million. That makes this the biggest startup acquisition to date to come out of Nigeria, as well as Stripe’s biggest acquisition to date anywhere. (Sendwave, acquired by WorldRemit in a $500 million deal in August, is based out of Kenya.)
It’s also a notable shift in Stripe’s strategy as it continues to mature: Typically, it has only acquired smaller companies to expand its technology stack, rather than its global footprint.
The deal underscores two interesting points about Stripe, now valued at $36 billion and regularly tipped as an IPO candidate. (Note: It has never commented on those plans up to now.) First is how it is doubling down on geographic expansion: Even before this news, it had added 17 countries to its platform in the last 18 months, along with progressive feature expansion. And second is how Stripe is putting a bet on the emerging markets of Africa specifically in the future of its own growth.
“There is enormous opportunity,” said Patrick Collison, Stripe’s co-founder and CEO, in an interview with TechCrunch. “In absolute numbers, Africa may be smaller right now than other regions, but online commerce will grow about 30% every year. And even with wider global declines, online shoppers are growing twice as fast. Stripe thinks on a longer time horizon than others because we are an infrastructure company. We are thinking of what the world will look like in 2040-2050.”
For Paystack, the deal will give the company a lot more fuel (that is, investment) to build out further in Nigeria and expand to other markets, CEO Shola Akinlade said in an interview.
“Paystack was not for sale when Stripe approached us,” said Akinlade, who co-founded the company with Ezra Olubi (who is the CTO). “For us, it’s about the mission. I’m driven by the mission to accelerate payments on the continent, and I am convinced that Stripe will help us get there faster. It is a very natural move.”
Paystack had been on Stripe’s radar for some time prior to acquiring it. Like its U.S. counterpart, the Nigerian startup went through Y Combinator — that was in 2016, and it was actually the first-ever startup out of Nigeria to get into the world-famous incubator. Then, in 2018, Stripe led an $8 million funding round for Paystack, with others participating, including Visa and Tencent. (And for the record, Akinlade said that Visa and Tencent had not approached it for acquisition. Both have been regular investors in startups on the continent.)
In the last several years, Stripe has made a number of investments into startups building technology or businesses in areas where Stripe has yet to move. This year, those investments have included backing an investment in universal checkout service Fast, and backing the Philippines-based payment platform PayMongo.
Collison said that while acquiring Paystack after investing in it was a big move for the company, people also shouldn’t read too much into it in terms of Stripe’s bigger acquisition policy.
“When we invest in startups we’re not trying to tie them up with complicated strategic investments,” Collison said. “We try to understand the broader ecosystem, and keep our eyes pointed outwards and see where we can help.”
That is to say, there are no plans to acquire other regional companies or other operations simply to expand Stripe’s footprint, with the interest in Paystack being about how well they’d built the company, not just where they are located.
“A lot of companies have been, let’s say, heavily influenced by Stripe,” Collison said, raising his eyebrows a little. “But with Paystack, clearly they’ve put a lot of original thinking into how to do things better. There are some details of Stripe that we consider mistakes, but we can see that Paystack ‘gets it,’ it’s clear from the site and from the product sensibilities, and that has nothing to do with them being in Africa or African.”
Stripe, with its business firmly in the world of digital transactions, already has a strong line in the detection and prevention of fraud and other financial crimes. It has developed an extensive platform of fraud protection tools, but even with that, incidents can slip through the cracks. Just last month, Stripe was ordered to pay $120,000 in a case in Massachusetts after failing to protect users in a $15 million cryptocurrency scam.
Now, bringing on a business from Nigeria could give the company a different kind of risk exposure. Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, but it is also one of the more corrupt on the continent, according to research from Transparency International.
And related to that, it also has a very contentious approach to law and order. Nigeria has been embroiled in protests in the last week with demonstrators calling for the disbanding of the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, after multiple accusations of brutality, including extrajudicial killings, extortion and torture. In fact, Stripe and Paystack postponed the original announcement in part because of the current situation in the country.
But while those troubles continue to be worked through (and hopefully eventually resolved, by way of government reform in response to demonstrators’ demands), Paystack’s acquisition is a notable foil to those themes. It points to how talented people in the region are identifying problems in the market and building technology to help fix them, as a way of improving how people can transact, and in turn, economic outcomes more generally.
The company got its start back when Akinlade, for fun (!) built a quick way of integrating a card transaction into a web page, and it was the simplicity of how it worked that spurred him and his co-founder to think of how to develop that into something others could use. That became the germination of the idea that eventually landed them at YC and in the scope of Stripe.
“We’re still very early in the Paystack payments ecosystem, which is super broken,” said Akinlade. The company today provides a payments API, and it makes revenue every time a transaction is made using it. He wouldn’t talk about what else is on Paystack’s radar, but when you consider Stripe’s own product trajectory as a template, there is a wide range of accounting, fraud, card, cash advance and other services to meet business needs that could be built around that to expand the business. “Most of what we will be building in Africa has not been built yet.”
Last month, at Disrupt, we interviewed another successful entrepreneur in the country, Tunde Kehinde, who wisely noted that more exits of promising startups — either by going public or getting acquired — will help lift up the whole ecosystem. In that regard, Stripe’s move is a vote of confidence not just for the potential of the region, but for those putting in the efforts to build tech and continue improving outcomes for everyone.
#EndSARS Twitter’s Jack Dorsey seeks support with Bitcoin
Billionaire boss of the leading social media platform Twitter, and payments company Square, Jack Dorsey, has joined in support of the #EndSARS protest that has overtaken Nigeria.
A few hours ago, Dorsey took to his Twitter handle to solicit support for Nigerian protesters seeking an end to Police brutality and calling for reforms.
He tweeted, “Donate via Bitcoin to help #EndSARS,” while also retweeting a tweet from the Feminist Coalition informing people of the modes by which contributions can be made.
Twitter CEO has been a longstanding Bitcoin supporter. In the past, he has said Bitcoin is “probably the best” native currency of the internet due to it being “consensus-driven” and “built by everyone.”
Recall, some days ago, Square, Inc. (NYSE: SQ) led by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey on October 8th disclosed that it purchased, 4,709 bitcoins at an estimated worth of $50 million.
Square added it invested in cryptos because it saw it as a tool for economic enhancement via participation in the future of payment systems, which aligns with Square’s objectives.
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