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Telematics 101: Understanding the technology behind real-time tracking

Telematics 101: Understanding the technology behind real-time tracking

The rising demand and penetration of wireless internet services in our lives has also drastically increased the number of connected devices we use on an everyday basis. From smartphones to smart homes and even smart cities, all have become a significant part of us without us even realising. The processes dealing with transmission of digital information over long distances are referred to as telematics.

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Telematics-enabled functionalities and features are now beginning to get extended to cars and is set to revolutionise the automobile industry. Moreover, if implemented and developed, the technology will have a major impact on the automobile insurance sector.

Moreover, data from a vehicle could alert drivers to vehicle problems, such as low tire pressure that might lead to a blowout, or warn of impending storms so the car could be under cover, protected from hail or similar weather related perils. By offering driver feedback on vehicles and driving behaviour, an insurer can engage customers in new practices that provide value, with the potential for increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Understanding Telematics:

The term ‘telematics’ was derived by merging together elements of ‘telecommunications’ and ‘informatics’.

As such, it involves integrating communications and information technology to transmit, store and receive data from remote devices, over a network. Naturally, this also requires knowledge of electrical engineering and computer science, along with vehicular technologies and road transportation. GPS technology with mobile devices and computers enables the tracking of, and communication with, individual vehicles and their drivers across full fleets.

Add communication over a 3G network and telematics can be used to send both data and communications back and forth between a vehicle and a central management system. Using sensors in cars and a trackside wireless network, Formula One teams have been using telematics for years for telling exactly where opponents are on the racetrack.

At the fringes, telematics is also a term used to describe ‘connected car’ features in general, which include live weather, traffic and parking info on the dashboard, apps, voice-activated features and even Facebook integration.

How is telematics changing the automotive industry?

Transportation is the backbone of fast moving economy; with changing times, people are heavily dependent on better transit facilities and always strive for new innovations in the auto sector. Telematics is improving the quality of lifestyle by adding functionality and value to automotive, tracking and transport solutions.

Globally, the has automobile industry has broadly been working on the consumption of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technologies. Deployment of M2M telematics applications in the automotive industry can help decrease the number of car crashes and accidents. The focus of telematics industry in deploying similar products would push the automotive sector in increasing the digitisation in vehicles.

While the economically and technologically superior nations like the USA, Japan and Germany have already implemented this technology, this initiative of telematics industry will bring a revolution in the automotive sector and would begin the system of intelligent traffic in the developing countries like India. It would also help in receiving live traffic updates, real time positioning, tracking, parking management.

Modern cars with integrated computer system and other electronic gadgets, which help in the essential controls, M2M modules today provide vehicles with fully loaded sensor technology, which gives all the information about the performance of the engine, temperature, fuel, breaks, etc.

Application of Telematics

Telematics is not new in the automotive industry. As early as in 1996, General Motors’ OnStar was the first to explore this technology and venture into it commercially. The prohibitive cost of infrastructure investment and lack of consumer demand at that time meant that telematics remained sidelined for some time in the automotive sector.

Vehicle telematics collects a wealth of data in motion such as sensors for assisted driving, vehicle speed, braking, transmission control systems, airbags, tire pressure and wiper speed, as well as geospatial and environmental conditions.

The growth of telematics that has been witnessed in developing and developed countries was primarily in four types of service domains, namely safety, information, navigation and remote diagnostics. Here are the wide applications and kind of Telematics.

Auto Insurance Telematics

Telematics is being adopted by auto insurance companies, with the introduction of Usage Based Insurance (UBI). The idea behind this is a pay-as-you-go system. For example, a driver who is rash and reckless will be charged for future premiums more than a responsible driver. It also eases in direct customer interaction and validation of claims in case of an accident.

Intelligent Vehicle Technologies

The evolution of telematics has led us to Intelligent Vehicle Technologies. IVT comprises of electronic, electromechanical as well as electromagnetic devices. These devices are used in conjunction with computer controlled devices and radio receivers to aid in artificial intelligence. This helps car safety systems for making rides safer for the users.

The emergency services

Wireless Vehicle Safety Communications

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insurance technology

This kind of telematics aids in a car as well as road safety. Road hazards, location and speed of traffic are transmitted on short range radios. This keeps the drivers and home users updated about the most recent traffic conditions in your area, thereby reducing the chance of accidents and traffic congestions.

Driverless Cars

if a driverless car is involved in a crash with a pedestrian or another car, the data gathered will be able to conclude who is liable – whether caused by human error, manufacturing fault or system glitch. With in-vehicle diagnostics and automatic braking becoming a reality, however, the number of road accidents occurring on Australian roads will likely diminish over the next half century as human driven cars will slowly be replaced by autonomous ones.

Family and Friends Tracking

Telematics can also help you easily locate your friends and family. With the Internet of Things (IoT) on the rise, we can expect fine-grained control of the tracking features. This, in turn, will help provide assistance in case of emergencies as it has been observed that if help is given on time, it can greatly impact the survival rate of the victim.

Telematics in India:

It is hard to find an industry that India is not rapidly growing in. Telematics is also one of the fastest growing segments in the country. Moreover, it has further received a shot in the arm due to the strengthening fuel prices, navigation, car crashes and cases of fuel wastage.

Even though it is true that today in India, telematics is merely providing real-time location of vehicles and fleet management solutions, the scope is huge. The Indian telematics market is on a high growth path, thanks to the progress in mobile communication industry which had made it possible to detect and determine any variable in real-time.

Despite telematics, as a concept is new to India, there are insurance companies that have clubbed this technology with their motor insurance offerings. A catch up with global markets won’t take much of a time. Connected enterprise and Industry awareness about vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity is clearly gaining momentum.

Technavio, the market research and analysis firm opines that the commercial vehicle telematics market in India will grow at a steady pace over the next four years to post a CAGR of around 16% by 2020. Fuelling this growth is the increased demand for vehicle tracking and monitoring systems from the logistics segment.

As per iSuppli, the BRIC region has the fastest growing auto industry when compared to the western countries and the percentages of automobiles implanted with telematics technology are estimated to reach 46% globally, by the end of 2018. Though at a nascent stage now, the industry is perfectly poised to rise up the growth pyramid.

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