Where Do Kids Fit Into Telematics Strategies?

Where do kids fall into the world of in-car apps?

In the April 2010 edition of Fast Company Anya Kamenetz talks about how technology is impacting childhood creativity and the way kids learn.  It’s a great read and you should definitely click through the link at the bottom, but first I want to talk about how this movement might impact the automotive world.

Generally the focus of all telematics except streaming video has been the driver.  The burgeoning in-vehicle app ecosystem is generally focused on enabling the driver to interact with their phone or apps in a safer way.  On the other hand, the primary consumers of rear seat entertainment are children.  As every OEM and Tier1 moves to implement some sort of advanced telematics technologies taking advantage of brought in or downloaded applications I’ve heard nothing about rear seat entertainment and how this movement towards open frameworks will impact and be impacted by the kids in the back seat.

American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media — as much time as they spend in school. Even more remarkably, they multitask across screens to cram 11 hours of content into those 7.5 hours. More and more of these activities are happening on smartphones equipped with audio, video, SMS, and hundreds of thousands of apps.

I have to believe that RSE is a major opportunity for the new breed of app enabled infotainment systems.  Sure, kids in the back seat could use their phones as they normally do, but as with the rest of the equation, the OEMs will have to sweeten the deal.  For example, in the back seat, 2 larger touch screens connected to each other to allow connected gaming would no doubt be a huge hit for any family regularly driving around with 2 young ones in the back.  Hardware costs could be a concern, but aren’t modern minivans just rolling entertainment centers for kids?

Not only are kids absorbing media, but they are learning at the same time.  The article highlights children from ages as low as 3 that are using technology to improve learning.  For example, learning how to spell or do your multiplication tables from an iPhone app (come to think of it, I know a few adults that would benefit from a math and spelling refresher).  Though kids have traditionally consumed video from the RSE, there is a distinct difference between video and both game and learning apps (it should be noted that most learning apps are just games with a purpose…So kids are often learning without realizing it).

“You put a kid in front of a TV, they veg out,” says Andrew Shalit, creator of the First Words app and father of a toddler son. “With an iPhone app, the opposite is true. They’re figuring out puzzles, moving things around using fine motor skills…”

And this engagement is key both in keeping kids interested as well as convincing parents to adopt these technologies.

With the launch of the iPad this past weekend, Apple is targeting education (amongst other things) as a key market for the device.  Text book manufacturers have announced iPad versions of text books and schools have even announce ‘an iPad for every student.’

Advanced applications of mobile connectivity don’t just have to enable web browsing, Facebook, and email.  They can enable not only fun, but also educational.

via [fast company]

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