One of the major usecases for Radio is when you’re driving. Usually to work. I was thinking about interactivity and Radio and how this medium does not allow for any sort of interactivity purely because of an engineering limitation. But Engineering challenges have a funny way of becoming trivial in a few years at most and I think with the advent of Software radio in the autospace, the more traditional form will become irrelevant soon.

Consider this, we have ever improving network speeds with 3G, 4G and an ever more increasing number of devices connecting to them. The real and the virtual are mixing with seaming ease with mobile, and being connected everywhere seems to be the norm these days.

So, with all the discrete components in place, Ford is doing a great job finally bringing us an SDK for the car, and hopefully the rest of the automakers will follow shortly. Honestly, the phone acting as a router, the car connecting to the internet with it, there are a LOT of things that I can see changing and that brings me to my initial point. The current radio we have is woefully inadequate. Here’re my thoughts on how it should be done –

  • One obvious solution is Pandora. Plain recommendations. But it becomes monotonous sometimes, and RJs are actually fun. Pandora does a good job for discovery, but it sucks that there’s no easy way to go back and listen to the songs that you like.
  • The other way is to just do a plain software radio and stream it over the phone. A few things I like about this approach is that there is a feedback system involved and you can get very detailed analysis of what is working and what is not. Coupled with location. So instead of relying purely on one human’s judgement and taste you’d have some data to help.
  • From a user’s perspective, haven’t you ever heard that song on Radio while you’re driving, loved it, but couldn’t find it again? That’ll never happen again. 
  • Either way, it’s big for serving up location based ads. Consider this. You’re in a car at 11:30pm and you’ve started driving. Good chance that you’re going to grab some lunch. I, as an advertiser know that you’re driving around in Metrowest, Orlando. I know from your Facebook profile that you like Thai food. How about running an ad for that local thai place now? Each ad can be targetted. Granted there are still somethings that need to be worked out for this to be successful, but I think it’ll be huge.

But broadly, I think this discussion could be enhanced to other interesting things that can be done while you’re in a car. Outsourced Indian Drivers anyone?


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