I recently took delivery of a shiny new blue BMW i8, and have to say I am absolutely loving it. There’s no shortage of reviews already written by people far more qualified than me to talk about cars, particularly when it comes to engine performance, torque, drive trains and pretty much any other technical term you can come up with. So, if you’re looking for that kind of information you’re not going to find it in this post.
What I do want to talk about, and what attracted me to the car in the first place, is what the experience of driving a connected car is really like. The look of the i8 is definitely futuristic, but it goes way more than skin deep. The car has inbuilt wifi, which allows data to be sent to and from it via the BMW ConnectedDrive system. This translates into an interactive driving experience which really does change the way you drive. Real time navigation, showing current traffic congestion and suggesting alternate routes that are more fuel efficient or faster are just the starting point.
Your driving stats feed up into the database, defining your driving style and feeding that back into suggested routes and the tips which helpfully pop up on the screen. After spending a lot of time looking at how capturing health data can be utilised to allow better engagement and management of your healthcare, its fascinating to see how the same principles translate into a use case scenario in a complete different industry.
You customise the alerts you wish to receive so you don’t end up with alert fatigue, based on what is important to you and motivates you most. Everything is constructed to allow you to design a system that works for you, and provides the information that motivates you to modify your behaviour according to your desired outcome. With me on the similarities to healthcare?
I can connect to the app with the touch of my fingerprint, accessing all of my most recent performance statistics and information. There’s even a gamification aspect, where I can see how my stats rate against the broader BMWi community. I’m happy to report my petrol consumption is well below average, despite Stuart doing his best to change that by flicking out of eco-drive and into sports mode whenever he gets a turn in the driver’s seat! Not to worry, the app also lets me see exactly where he’s been and how hard he’s driven it… I probably should clarify I’m much more inclined to use this feature to keep tabs on what’s gone on after I drop my car at the airport valet parking though. It will definitely make for some interesting conversations when I return to collect it. Ferris Bueller memories anyone??
I can control aspects of the car from the app, pre-conditioning it on hot or cold days, scheduling the time that it recharges to off peak power times. As the network of charging stations in Australia grows, you can pre-book time slots at stations that suit. We have a charger unit installed in our garage, where the car is fully recharged in less than 2 hours; as one friend commented, less than the time it takes to charge your iPhone!
How far you can drive on a single charge is dependant on numerous factors: your driving style, the topography of the route, the climate settings you have chosen to name a few. It also recharges as you drive in some circumstances. For details on how this regenerative charging works you’ll need to go to one of those other reviews, but in my experience, when I’m driving above 70km/hr with minimal stop starting the number of kms showing in the range increases fairly rapidly. We’ve been driving hybrid cars for years, but the fuel efficiency of this car leaves the others in the shade. I’ve not had to refill the petrol tank once yet, so the environmental impact of this type of technology becoming common place has the potential to be really significant. With the electricity to recharge it being generated by our solar panels I’m feeling like I’m at least doing something to balance out all the flying I do….
The way information is delivered is interesting too, with key information projected onto the lower part of the windscreen. As with Google Glass, I’m a huge fan of information delivered to your line-of-sight with no need to take your eyes off (in this case quite literally) the road ahead. The type of information presented in this way includes your speed, very useful as the acceleration is fantastic and you are doing 60 before you know it, and turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system. Upcoming traffic hazards also show up here, which is great for pre-warning you and avoiding potential collisions or issues. Again, I see parallels to what the future of healthcare looks like, with information presented in a way that allows you to pro actively make changes that influence outcomes rather than being thrown into reactive behaviour.
The experience of driving a connected car is constantly stimulating my thinking around how to make connected healthcare a similarly engaging exercise. All other justifications aside though, this car is an absolute joy to drive, it looks fantastic, and I’m loving every minute of it!