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BMW wants to put adverts in your car

Wed, 29 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800

Ever wish you could be bombarded with advertisements as you drive to work? Forever wondering what special offers are available in the grocery store you’ve just passed? No, neither have we.

But BMW begs to differ, which is why it’s currently undertaking a research project entitled "virtual marketplace of the future". In essence, BMW sees a future where location-based services can bring real-time and tailored information directly to the driver.

BMW sees a future where location-based services can bring real-time adverts directly to the driver

Which is to say, personalised advertising while you drive.

What services will be offered by the BMW virtual marketplace?

Some of these services may be genuinely useful for the driver, such as the location of the nearest available parking space, or the cheapest place to fill up with fuel. We don’t mind these kind of add-ons, especially if they work seamlessly with the satellite navigation system.

But real-time offers generated by location-based service providers? Isn’t that a bit scary, not to mention dangerous? We dread to think of the consequences of a ‘Hello Boys’ Wonderbra ad being suddenly beamed on to the car’s infotainment display.

BMW, which is conducting the research in collaboration with software firm SAP, speaks of "special coffee deals at filling stations, the best parking deals or even real-time offers at a sports shop along the route".

Why is BMW looking into the virtual marketplace?

BMW sees this as an extension of its ConnectedDrive system, with the long-term aim of tailoring the software to the specific needs and wants of the driver, saying:

The crucial thing about the virtual marketplace is that it can be switched off

"In our vision for a virtual marketplace of the future, the vehicle will provide customers with context-adaptive, preference-based and timely offers and information relevant to their route."

The project has majored on parking and couponing, two basic but familiar aspects of modern living.

We also see potential for cars like the new i3, with the system not only identifying the nearest charging point, but also the nearest empty charging point. Which could mean the difference between driving home or catching the bus.

Is BMW’s virtual marketplace a good thing?

The crucial thing about the virtual marketplace is that it can be switched off. As BMW mentions, future navigation systems could provide the information, "but only if the driver wants it".

Arguably the most worrying statement from BMW is that the data from the system will be used to "predict drivers’ needs during the course of a journey". Which all sounds a bit Big Brother to us. Or maybe KITT from Knight Rider.

"Michael, your bladder is full - there’s a toilet in 350 yards… Michael, you’ve spilt ketchup on your shirt, there’s an M&S in 10 miles... Michael, you’re looking out of shape, there’s a gym on the right…"

However, if it directed us to the best driving route on the way home from a meeting, now that would be a different story…

On Bing: see pictures of BMW’s virtual marketplace
Find out how much a used BMW costs on Auto Trader
Read a BMW review on MSN Cars
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept
BMW reveals self-drifting car in Las Vegas
BMW i3 unveiled: is this the future of electric cars?

By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith, contributor, MSN Cars