With autonomous cars on their way to becoming a widespread reality, companies are starting to think about how they can monetize the extra time and space that a robot in the driver’s seat allows passengers.
Intel and Warner Brothers proposed a vision for what that media-transportation fusion might look like at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The tech giant outfitted a BMW X5 SUV with a retractable flat-screen and displays built into the two passenger-side windows that offer a 270-degree theater view of Warner Brothers videos and comic books.
While the project is currently in its conceptual phase, Intel sees the revamping the space inside of driverless cars as a big market opportunity in the future. The company commissioned a report last year predicting that mainstream adoption of the technology would result in 250 million more hours per year of free commute time that would otherwise be spent driving, creating a $200 billion market of new in-car applications and content.
Intel’s demonstration of the concept vehicle took passengers through the entertainment options during a short hypothetical ride-share trip. The ride starts with an identity confirmation through a generic ride-share app, which prompts a welcome message to appear across the display in the side window.
Once inside, the face of Batman butler Alfred Pennyworth appears on a long narrow control screen to instruct you how to start the trip and lay out entertainment options, including various Warner Brothers comic book titles and movie trailers.
Passengers choose the content they want through a connected mobile app, and a television screen is raised to fill the space between the empty driver seat and the passenger rows. With no rearview mirror or lane-changing glances needed, the space is able be much more immersive than your typical in-car TV.
The comic book reader displays panels across all three screens, and the sample video—a trailer for Aquaman—was edited to fit the 270-degree view. A prompt at the end of the preview offers passengers the option of buying tickets to see the movie in theaters, serving as an example of how e-commerce and advertising will be woven into the consumer experience.
At any time during the imagined ride, a message might interrupt your experience with a route change option or an unexpected traffic alert.
Intel isn’t stopping at entertainment experiences. The company imagines the vehicles of the future hosting a whole slew of consumer activities ranging from on-board beauty salons and fast-casual dining to mobile healthcare clinics and pod hotels, according to a recent report the company commissioned.
“The emergence of autonomous vehicles portends a major shift in how people use their time,” said Marcie Miller, Intel’s head of automative driving marketing, said in a statement. “The concept car shows how cars will become a new kind of ‘space.’”