BMW’s Virtual Marketplace: A Useful Tool or Unwanted Intrusion?

It has been a few years since the onboard infotainment systems you find in high end vehicles were first introduced, offering a combination of entertainment, satellite navigation and internet capability.

For many drivers they will have proved an incredibly useful tool, bringing together features that they once required multiple devices for, however BMW are looking to take things one step further with the ‘Virtual Marketplace’.

The purpose of this system is to bring information to the driver in real time based on their preferences and current location, or to put it another way, personalised ads.

Potential Benefits

So how could this development, which is currently only a research project, actually prove useful to motorists in the real world?

Some potential applications could be locating the nearest car park, which of the local petrol stations is the cheapest or the best places to eat in the area. If this could be integrated with the satellite navigation system as well then it would prove to be an exceptionally useful tool.

A Dangerous Distraction?

One obvious possible drawback to this system is the risk of distracting a driver when they should be concentrating on the road ahead. Studies have proven that it isn’t physically holding a device that can prove dangerous but rather dedicating some of your concentration to something else, be this a smart phone, car stereo or satellite navigation system.

The good news is that BMW has said the driver would have the option of turning off the service – of course there is time for that to change as the project progresses. Once the advertising contracts start rolling in it could be that financial factors dictate that in-car ads are compulsory.

A scary vision of an Orwellian future or a positive enhancement to the driving experience? Only time will tell.

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