The Gadget Generation

The Gadget Generation

The proliferation of computer technology and the affordability of telecommunication services are dramatically changing the lifestyle of both urban and non-urban communities.

In less than three decades, the personal computer evolved from a device the size of a desk to one that can fit in a pocket. Smartphones (even the cheapest ones) are several hundreds or even thousands of times more powerful and have a much better display than the computers we used in the early ‘90s. A new generation reached maturity in an environment dominated by „gadgets”. It is a generation for which the virtual world is as real as the surrounding world. It is a generation used to renew their playing/working devices at an amazing rate, and to relate to miniaturised versions of prestigious products. It is a generation for which the computing power is more important than the power of an engine, and for which speed (at the same time) is everything! Therefore, it can be estimated that one third of the world population is part of this new technological wave which will increasingly put pressure on the industrial evolution in the mobility field. More and more consumers seek the power of innovation.

And yet, this is not a novelty and not even a surprise. If we look into our past, at the Victorian era of British history, we will be able to see a similar behaviour: the uptake of the Industrial Revolution products on a large scale, with little concern about personal security and safety issues. The main difference between the Victorian world and the Digital world? Access to technology is much cheaper, and it is possible even in pauper regions. In these circumstances, it shouldn’t come as a surprise for us that the attention of potential customers of public transport vehicles is focused on those areas that give access to cutting edge technologies (and I am repeating myself here, I refer primarily to the ICT) and on the possibility of a quick update with a new generation product in order to stay in line with the current trends.

We can thus see an interplay that becomes more obvious by the day between vehicles and gadgets, an enhanced communication of the vehicle’s smart features, whether they control key features or serve infotainment area; therefore, the IT industry is leaving its mark in the field of transport vehicles and, apparently, it starts dictating to established manufacturers the next directions in development.

Recently, I have seen a carmaker who was the first or among the first manufacturers to launch a navigation system based on the smartphone of another manufacturer, thus allowing an interchange between them, the use of the brand (not just OEM) and the use of the experience and strengths of smartphones: continuous and easy software updates. The mass produced vehicles (bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks) are already part of these developments in mobility.

The question is: what is and what will be the response of the manufacturers of mass transport vehicles (buses, trains, planes, ships) and the service operators using these fleets? Are they going to keep up with this new trend or are they going to become, sooner or later, the service providers for the “narrow-minded” and for those who fail to find an alternative in the world of “mobile gadgets”? Are the public transport operators and the transport vehicle manufactures going to succeed in turning the trip into a digital experience or are they going to leave it as a privilege of the private vehicles?

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