Tim has been the Sprint Business Development lead in the Connected Vehicle space since 2007 when Sprint entered a collaboration with Ford around "Ford Work Solutions." He did not shy away from the rather pointed questions I, Suzanne Bowen, shared with him from my Twitter, Google + and Linkedin online networks of friends:
1. What is Sprint Velocity Connected Vehicle and connected cars in general?
The crucial task is "to understand and discuss value propositions of what Sprint can do to help enhance OEM's connected vehicles' strategy. An example ... the Sprint Velocity initially began because of a program commercialized with Chrysler Corporation under their uConnect Access. Remember that "velocity" is defined as the convergence of speed and direction. Here is an opportunity to "accelerate connections of customers with their vehicle and with the OEM of the vehicle, dealer networks and all those people associated with the ownership experience ... Sprint is incredibly open to new ideas and partnerships whether with large or small entities ..."
2. How can the automobile industry stay compatible with innovation and distribution cycles of mobile Internet and software?
"A commercialization cycle is a little like a hamster wheel. The development for an OEM and a vehicle is more like a ferris wheel ... why we very strategically said, 'We can bring some great melding to those gears in this stage because certainly understand consumer electronics and device launches with Ford and others ... Traditionally auto development cycles have been very linear in terms of OEM, to tier 1 to tier two to tier three, etc. It has to be much more of a collaborative loop ... The short answer ... there's no going back whether it is Asia or Europe ... the entire industry now understands going forward, collaboration between the use cases of the consumer's device, what they aready have, married to the technology that the auto OEMs and their hardware providers must start on the same level and grow up together ... this is why Sprint Velocity exists."
3. How do you respond to potential users who question how connected car technologies, especially automatic / automated ones, makes them feel as if their driver autonomy is being taken away?
Though the most important use case for "connected vehicles" is safety, people have an emotional connection to their car. Think about your own car and even of the songs dedicated to them such as "409," "Maybelline," and "Mustang Sally." Mr. Johnson says, "If your car becomes a moving living room, a lot is lost there. The technology surrounding the autonomy aspect are first and foremost about safety such as lane deviation detection and rear parking monitor camera ..."
"Auto makers want to continue to differentiate on the driving experience which entails acceleration and braking, as well as now, climate control and info-tainment ..."
4. How can the mobile device and automobile digital dashboard capitalize on each other's advantages for the benefit of the user / consumer? Obviously, people are not going to carry around their automobile's digital dashboard everywhere, for example.
"It goes back to the head units where the radio is ... and the display ... what does it look like from a device interaction perspective because at the end of the day, back to my safety comment ... almost anything can be done at this point, short of de-materialization like Star Trek, but that may not be too far away ... from a distraction standpoint ... eyes, hands, wheel ... safety is best use case of all."
5. Would you give us an example of how Sprint Velocity works with Clients or Partners such as the Strategic Wireless Partnership between Chrysler and Sprint Connected Vehicle platform? How does the Uconnect Access fit in?
It's a partnership and Chrylser is Sprint Velocity's valued customer. Chrysler was going through general corporate reorganization with huge changes in ownership. As far as connected vehicle, Chrysler didn't have legacy in place for this such as GMC with OnStar and Ford with Sync. (Awesome for Sprint Velocity and Chrysler to start with a white piece of paper to do something big, never done before, with none of the "set in stone" procedures and dead-ends to get in the way!) Instead of thinking in a linear fashion, the partners were able to take from a sumptuous and abundant Thanksgiving table situation with all the right partners around the table. Tim Johnson says that Uconnect Access is just the beginning.
Listen to a recording of our conversation for more exciting details and about the different types of organizations that can gain the most from working with Sprint Velocity. Click a Sprint Velocity summary in PDF to see a full building block perspective
Let's meet Sprint Velocity group and other M2M / connected vehicles-related innovators at Connected Cars next week and perhaps at an ITEXPO / Mobility Tech Zone conference in the future.
Find out more and get started by visiting http://www.sprint.com/m2m and http://www.ConnectedCarsEvent.com. Sprint is the host sponsor and network reception drink sponsor of Connected Cars as well as the provider of Tim Johnson as a panelist on the session, How Will Industry Players Work Together to Deliver Truly Excellent Customer Experience in the Automotives of Now and the Future." Get in touch Tim Johnson, Sprint Velocity's Global Business Development Manager, at 616-292-6238 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I can relate to the final line in his email signature: "Make No Small Plans" - Daniel Burnham.