Panel Discussion: In-car Entertainment: 'Who Dares, Wins'


Hayley Bull Director

Excitement is no longer what is going on outside the vehicle, it is what is going on inside that will create the ultimate user experience. In vehicle entertainment has remained largely unchanged for decades but with the number of connected cars on the rise, there is arguably a big opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of software and online services to deliver drivers and their passengers an engaging and innovative experience.

As part of the Automotive Tech Week: Megatrends, I moderated an all star panel discussion titled 'In-Car Entertainment: Who Dares, Wins'. We explored the trends driving the in-car entertainment sector and how this experience should look.

“Customers have an expectation of wanting everything, everywhere,” says Pete Wood, senior vice president-digital distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment

Bob Dillion, from Xperi agrees that mobile, desktop and living room experiences are driving consumer expectations. The shift in the media landscape and connectivity are some of the key factors driving the in-cabin experience. He also believes that autonomous driving, which is an emerging trend, will ultimately have a profound impact on in-car entertainment.

Scott Lyons from Ford discusses that in the automotive industry “screens are getting bigger”. For example like Mercedes, where they had multiple screens with many different layers of a menu system. Everything is presented to you, so you don't have to dig deeper into different layers of a menu system and don't get distracted while driving. He explains that it is an interesting approach but he believes the question ultimately is that although we have more screen real estate to play with, what content do you fill it with?

One of the highlights of the panel discussion was around the unique environment that the car provides for entertainment. “The car is not a mobile phone on wheels” Bob Dillon from Xperi explains, it is not about replicating what a smartphone offers but enhancing those experiences based on the unique environment that a car provides. Echoing this sentiment, Pete Wood from Sony Pictures explains that a key focus for them is understanding what an enhanced experience looks like, that perhaps you can't do with your mobile phone or even in your home.

"You've got this closed environment and controlled environment, what does the world look like when you're no longer being forced to drive". Pete Wood, Sony Pictures

The panel discussed the need for unique services or unique content that is underserved from existing services, as the vehicle is capable of understanding key insights such as commute time and also when the vehicle is stationary.

Today, “the car audio system is probably the best audio system a person owns,” says Dillon. “That offers an immense opportunity to deliver content”. He believes that voice control and recognition will advance to a new level. “You should be able to say, ‘That movie with Tom Hanks and the volleyball,’” he says - it should then pull “Cast Away” for a viewer to watch on a backseat screen. Darryl Ballantyne from LyricFind, a digital provider of licensed song lyrics, explains that the rise of connected cars and focus on entertainment has allowed them to enter the sector. They have now been able to license deals, allowing music lyrics to become part of the automotive experience for scenarios such as autonomous driving, charge-time or rear time entertainment.

The panel also discussed how the in-car entertainment experience needs to be seamless and complimentary to existing services. For example, being able to access your personalisations and playlists from your audio streaming service through the car, rather than having to control it on a phone and use an auxiliary audio input. Wood says “I want to get into a vehicle, press a button and have something work. I don’t want to do multiple things to get to an app that’s already on my phone.”

Other topics discussed during the panel included data and 5G connectivity.


Pete Wood, Senior Vice President of New Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Bob Dillon, SVP, Automotive Connected Media, Xperi

Darryl Ballantyne, Founder & CEO, LyricFind

Scott Lyons, Head of Business & Partner Development, Ford

See our other 'In-car Entertainment' panels here.

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