Decoupling car development from tech development
The production of a physical vehicle doesn’t occur in a single location, making it a logistical challenge to monitor software during the manufacturing process. OTA changes all of that. The beauty of OTA is that no matter where vehicles are assembled, and no matter which dealerships they’re sent to after assembly, they can all be synced with the latest software improvements wirelessly.
As a developer, this means you aren’t building a product that needs to ship with the car — your tech doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect when the vehicle model is ready; it may not even need to be finished. This opens the door to more IoT developers than ever before, making it even more accessible to design (and improve) apps for the auto industry and add these updates after a car has been released to the public.
This is already commonplace in the gaming industry. The physical release of a game is not necessarily tied to the completion of the game’s software. While it takes a few months to get the product packaged and ready to be sold in stores, the development team can continue to make updates and improvements to the game’s software. More often than not, modern games are released with a “day-one patch,” an update that users can immediately download upon purchasing the game — usually this patch fixes bugs or further improves upon the latest version of the software before the game was released.
In the same way, OTA upgrades allow developers to fix issues and add software features even after the car has left the factory. This serves to further increase the usability of a vehicle over time by continuously improving the experience for the consumer. For developers, it means opportunities to produce and implement new tech, quickly address issues, and improve existing products independently of the vehicle’s release and sale. Future OTA updates will likely take this above and beyond, diagnosing potential problems even before they arise and providing silent support to the consumer.
Approaching security from an IoT perspective
Unauthorized access to vehicle software looms as a real concern for safety and privacy, and auto developers must be diligent in keeping their networks secure from hackers. Someone who breaks into a car doesn’t just have access to its owner’s glove compartment; they may have access to their home address, text or email messages, and other personal information. That’s not to mention the growing fear that cybercriminals will be able to hack into vehicles and take control of the mechanical functions. (Two security researchers rather famously demonstrated this vulnerability by hacking a Jeep in 2014.)
As with all IoT devices, developers need to employ multi-factor authentication to all apps for the auto industry. Think carefully about designing functions to act separately from each other; in the case that one feature is unlocked or compromised, will it put adjacent features at risk? Partitioning may mitigate the risk of hacks and keep banks of information fully separate.