It is strange to think that not too long ago, a mere AM/FM radio and a speaker or two was pretty much the gold standard when it came to in-car entertainment. Nowadays, improvements in computing have ensured that practically any entertainment innovation can be replicated within a vehicle, making rides all that more dramatic whilst at the same time reducing the frequency of ‘are we there yet’- induced migraines on the part of parents. Car gadgetry has come a long way, but have changes in automotive entertainment really been that ground shaking?
The early days of car entertainment were marked by rather basic systems. Though car radios had been around since the 1950s, the first front and back volume-adjustable car stereos were produced in the 1960s, followed by the first cassette players (and mix tapes) being introduced in the 1970s. For many, however, the real mod-con of their youth was the in-car CD player, an elite extra during the 1980s that gradually became the mainstay of the majority of automobiles. However despite music being the extra that many enjoy during their journeys, the irresistible pull of technological progress has made in-car video systems a must for a significant number of people.
The car DVD system was a far cry from current systems. Released by Pioneer, the system was actually used for navigation, though unfortunately was bemoaned for being rather unresponsive and unreliable. It was quite a while until car and entertainment manufacturers caught up with home entertainment advances, and as such for years the best that could be offered were packages including small screens that could be attached to the rear of the front seat head rests, connecting to a regular portable DVD player. Nowadays, these systems are built-in to the head rests or function through the dashboard computer display, once-insurmountable hurdles such as vehicle vibrations affecting the function of the disk and laser, and lacklustre battery life being ironed out. DVDs allow for children and unruly passengers to be placated, but an innovation is now entering the mainstream that could completely overtake disk-based systems; in-car internet.
According to Intel, in-car internet is said to be the third fastest growing tech device after smartphones and tablets, a growth that is down to the sheer number of possibilities in-car internet creates. Imagine being able to download an app to your car that finds parking spaces, that finds quick directions or that selects tracks depending on your location, speed or time of day. These are all excellent for drivers, but the real interest lies in entertainment. With online gaming on the rise, soon passengers will be able to play such games when they are truly on the go, enjoying great games and making petrol money whilst in the car itself! Tablets and smartphones will suddenly become useful, internet-connected entertainment devices, rendering DVD systems completely obsolete! With this technology fast becoming the norm, these advantages will soon benefit the mainstream, potentially ridding the world of the pox of the boring car journey!