Nvidia. QNX. Mobileye are not the usual automotive brands of old, but just a few of the growing number of companies we’ll be hearing more of in the months and years to come.
Technology journalists will already be familiar with such names, and it’s hard not to notice them being increasingly slipped into press conference speeches and conversations over dinner with car engineers.
Like it or loathe it, the current car press conference is no longer filled with talk about roll angles but hybrid charging times and the benefits of ‘connected drive’ apps. A consequence of this shift in focus from analogue to digital discussions is that we’re all technology journalists now.
The upshot for many is that, while the spotty youngster from Wired magazine is furiously typing on his smartphone in a bid to publish his news story before the engineer has even finished talking, many traditional hacks are having sweaty flashbacks to the time they struggled to programme the family video recorder. The bad news? It’s not going to get any easier as car firms increase their focus on communicating the benefits of wireless charging, automated city braking systems and autonomous driving capabilities.
Publishing faces an uncertain future, thanks to the threat of social networks, user generated content and the reluctance of a growing number of readers to actually pay for our exquisitely crafted content. Our own editorial universe is also under threat. If we don’t embrace change – switching our focus from oversteer to robot cars – we’ll be brushed aside by the legion of tech-savvy non motoring scribblers with a better grasp of navigating the intricacies of the latest infotainment systems.
My inner geek bristles at the poor quality coverage of high-tech topics in the mainstream press. It’s all a bit Blue Peter meets an 80s slant on Tomorrows World – a little bit patronising and not terribly informative. Yet it’s the average consumer who’s being short-changed here; the need to speak their language and help them navigate the complexities of the modern motor car is what will help encourage them to embrace new technology and consider changing their car. To write with the consumer in mind you must first think like one – something the tech hacks will never do.