I think it is time for the Car-Fi era to be unleashed on our social consciousness. Why not? Social media has already busted into your bedroom, workplace, kids sports games, bathroom (come on, you know it has). Why shouldn’t it also leap into your car with you – and I don’t mean looking back and forth at your phone and the SUV that is 1.5 car lengths in front of you every 1/16th of a mile as you coast down interstate 287 at a comfortable 84 MPH. I’m talking about something safe, new and fun. Let me break it down for you.
According to Wikipedia, Wi-Fi is used by over 700 million people and there are over 750,000 hotspots around the world with about 800 million new Wi-Fi devices every year. This is great if you’re sitting in a Starbucks or walking around your house in your underwear with your wireless device of choice. But once you get in your car, you’ve either got to use that device in boring mode (unconnected) or have something that is also cellular enabled.
But the point is, even if you have something that can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular like an iPad and can hit Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn on the road, there still exists an opportunity for social (and even commercial) interaction that isn’t being tapped in to and can’t be with existing applications.
How many hours do you spend in your car each day? How many cars do you pass (if you drive like me) or how many cars pass you (if you drive like that driver that took me to the Toro Loco a couple weeks ago)? A better question is, how long do you sit in deadlocked traffic jams with tons of cars all around you also stopped? I don’t know, I’ve never counted. But it is a lot. You probably don’t know the vast majority of those people in those cars also. But you could. Here’s where Car-Fi comes into play.
Since I am a writer first and a techno-guru-genius second, I will portray the workings of Car-Fi with a fictional depiction starring the winners of my recent “Century Mark Blog Star”. In this esteemed competition, I generously reward the Twitter follower at my @LessonsOfLunacy account that gets me to the next century mark with a spot in my next blog post. The winners for my 300th follower milestone have already been announced on my Twitter account. So congratulations @tosumitgupta, @jcalebknight and @Corey_D23. I don’t know which of you was actually my 300th, so you all win. I know…SO EXCITING!
Caleb Knight, a son, brother, student, follower of Christ, is in his rented Chrysler C300. He flew into Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday from Arkansas and is driving into NYC for the first time. He is stoked, but pretty pissed right now as he sits in a nasty traffic jam leading down the helix to the Lincoln tunnel. Thank goodness he has Christ to keep him centered.
Sumit Gupta is a direct marketing professional and social media geek from Delhi, India in the tri-state area to promote his new website. He sits in the backseat of a Suburban diddling on his new iPhone and preparing the Keynote presentation on his MacAir while his driver navigates the traffic leading to the toll.
B.C is heading into the Meat Packing district with some friends that have a gig in a downtown club. He is driving a pimped up pickup truck with the band and equipment in the rear and also sitting in the Lincoln Tunnel entrance traffic.
It’s a Friday, mid-afternoon. Everyone wants to get into the city.
While tooling around with his rental’s toys, Caleb notices a button next to the navigational system’s screen labeled “Car-Fi” and hits it. Immediately, a plethora of green dots light up the screen. Caleb finds that he is able to bounce from dot to dot by using the system’s directional buttons. As he settles on each dot, he sees what looks like a license plate number and a name. He hits one.
B.C. [noticing the blinking light in his pickup]: “Dude, there’s a call from the guy next to us. Should I take it?”
[B.C.’s DJ squints to his right and sees a mid-sized Chrysler that looks to him like an imitation Bentley.]
DJ: Sure, why not.
B.C. [clicks the “Accept” button]: Hey, who dis?
Caleb (with a southern drawl): Uh, hey. I thangk I’m in the car next to yoo. Howz it goin man? Trahin to figger out how this here thang worgks.”
B.C: Yeah, good man, where you heading? [puts it on mute and snickering with the DJ] Think this guy’s from around here?
Caleb: Just goin intoo the city fo the first tahm. I’m, uh, here from Arkansas. You guys knowd of any places ah can hit fo some toons n chow?
B.C.: Hell yeah. Follow us!
Caleb: Cool, will do.
Caleb hits the next green light on his screen. He’s trying to connect with the Suburban in front of him with the tinted windows and finds it on the first try.
Sumit’s Driver: Sir, there is a call from a vehicle behind you. Would you like to take it?
Sumit: Sure. [Gently places his gagdets on the seat next to him and clears his throat]
Caleb: Hi, Ahm behind yoo.
Sumit: Hello, I’m Sumit. Have you heard of Webfishery.com? I-
Caleb: Oh, man. Dang it! I thought you mahght be some famous hot chick or somethin’ with those tricked out windows.
Sumit: Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There’s a nice looking girl in the car to my left. You should try that one.
Caleb: Thanks! [clicks another green dot]. Hey baybah!
So while my story does illustrate some possible abuses that can easily be avoided by the “Don’t accept” or “Disconnect” feature, there are nearly limitless possibilities for a new kind of close up social interaction and encounters.
Marketers, as much as I don’t want to make your job easier for you, I see the potential for commercials that could be beamed into your Car-Fi app, essentially adding audio and more video to the billboard experience. Additional integration with a car’s GPS system could add customized preferences to the navigation system.
I’d better stop now before I give some advertising exec a wet dream. Last thing I want is for him to figure out how to bill me just to avoid commercials in my Car-Fi.
For now, I’ll just let this meme float up the blogosphere flagpole and see if anyone solutes.