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Different needs, same speeds: India’s just as connected as the West

When it comes to the evolution of connectivity, India has what it takes to keep apace with developed markets, says Sudip Singh, Global Head of Engineering Services at Infosys. By Megan Lampinen

Connected car developments may be kicking off in the world’s mature markets, but they won’t be limited to these regions. Megatrends spoke to Sudip Singh, Global head of Engineering Services at Infosys, about the evolution of connectivity in different regions around the globe, and the forces at work behind the scenes.

While Infosys is an Indian company, Singh operates out of its Texas office and has been with the company for nearly 20 years. Infosys classifies itself as an ecosystem integrator and the automotive segment is just one of several in which it is active. As head of its engineering services, Singh’s work involves the vehicle domain. “This is an extremely exciting time for the connected car,” he notes. “Things are already moving extremely quickly. We are seeing a tremendous amount of action in the telematics space, the connected car space and the Internet of Things.”

Western origins

Singh observes that the emergence of the connected car segment was driven primarily by safety requirements. “In the US, Europe and Japan, the focus is sitting on the edge of safety, security and personalisation. In a connected car, they are looking at somebody who can be a companion, who can make you more productive, can allow you to be more social, can allow for you to improve. It is this entire suite of services which a connected car is providing in the western world.”

However, the sector’s development in emerging markets, notably India, has come from another direction and has only been made possible through the rising use of smartphones. “It is the extremely broad prevalence of the mobile device which exists and has become ubiquitous in the Indian market,” says Singh. “It is driving behaviour from a richness of application experience, as opposed to safety or security.”

Most notably, safety and security require a certain level of infrastructure that is not present in India. As Singh explains, “Safety and security presume a certain base infrastructure around 911 [emergency services number in the US]. In India, that infrastructure is not as well developed. What is well developed and in some ways has become an expectation of the consumer, who is the end client, is a very rich interface on the application side. The application per se is driving behaviour in India, compared to the safety or security part of it.”

Leaning on infrastructure

Singh believes connected cars can become a widespread reality without necessarily being a function of the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) networks being established across the US, Europe and Japan. For the likes of India, the proliferation of mobile devices will be sufficient to ensure a future for connected car technology. Singh points to Google’s autonomous vehicle and its trial operations in the US: “We have scenario where Google’s car is driving here in the US without a fully established infrastructure.”

Singh believes that the initial V2V and V2I conceptualisation did not factor in the proliferation of mobile devices, and in India, “smartphones have become a part of life.”

This, Singh says, “has taken a lot of folks by surprise. It was not anticipated that you can potentially develop on the back of the technology that now exists on the mobile device. You are now able to go ahead and not need to lean on a V2V, V2I sort of infrastructure to first be established.”

This opens up possibilities for connected car technology around the world. “That will ensure connected cars could operate anywhere. I don’t feel that India will need to wait behind the western world. It will not be a poor cousin to the western world.”

Not only will India keep apace with other regions, but it could even emerge as a leader. “In the connected car space and the Internet of Things, I expect the Indian market to be at parity or in some ways even drive behaviour,” Singh concludes.

This article was first published in the Q2 2014 issue of Automotive Megatrends Magazine. Follow this link to download the full issue