The word “telematics” might sound like something from decades ago, but it’s actually a cutting-edge world of technology. The term refers to software and devices that power the electronic features found in today’s vehicles. From GPS tracking to in-car Wi-Fi connections, telematics is changing the way we drive — both for personal use and in commercial fleets.
In short, telematics refers to the technology we use behind the wheel that involves Internet and satellite connectivity.
GPS and Vehicle Telematics
At the heart of telematics we have GPS. The first GPS navigation systems that came out in the 1990s opened up our eyes to the power of adding technologically advanced features to cars and trucks. With GPS locations and maps now on our dashboards, the demand for more telematics quickly began to grow.
Satellite still makes the best option for many vehicle features because it essentially works worldwide — it does not rely on towers or hotspots. GPS locations have also become more accurate over time, thanks to new technology and the US government improvements to civilian GPS.
GPS tools have expanded beyond simple navigation systems. Fleet vehicles can now be equipped with GPS tracking that incorporates a variety of helpful features:
- Route planning and other efficiency boosters
- Speeding and idling reports to monitor drivers
- Complex route planning and arrive/depart alerts
- Tracking that produces analytics reports businesses can use to boost productivity
For consumers, other examples of GPS telematics include traffic alerts, roadside emergency services, and of course satellite radio.
Other Kinds of Telematics
Telematics also includes the many cellular and Internet-based features making their way into vehicles. The features range from entertainment systems to full Internet connectivity.
Ford, Kia and other manufacturers have been adding in-dash “infotainment” systems in recent years. These devices take voice commands and connect to the Internet for weather, traffic, streaming music and other features. Audi and others have also announced full in-car Wi-Fi, so passengers can have a field day on their laptops.
From wearables to biometrics, we will likely be seeing a wider variety of telematics features arriving in coming years, too.