That said, once many new car drivers use the factory fitted GPS  they soon realise it is not as good as a portable device and often prohibitively expensive to update maps, they come back to a standalone GPS device.

Then there are Smartphones.  The Australian market is expected to reach 75% penetration by 2022 of the Australian phone market compared with 43.7% ten years earlier. Yes, they get you from A to B, and they are convenient. However it is not their core function and the experience a stand-alone device will give is far superior. Not to mention the fact it is legal to use a GPS.

But of course, we can’t ignore these two factors have a significant influence on our sales.

Q: What is the next-gen portable GPS going to look like?

It will be more agile. Car companies focus on making cars and the process of designing, testing, manufacturing and selling can be years, which means software for things like GPS can be outdated by the time it hits the market. We can be agile and have new models and new over-the-air features within weeks, months at best.

I can’t be specific, but I can hint at a more smartphone-like format: larger, high-res, high brightness, screens yet a smaller, thinner body; better and less obtrusive magnetic windscreen and dash mounting and processing power to burn.

Some will have IoT-like 3/4G connectivity, traffic, cloud access, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and over the air updates. Let’s just say these smarts will offer far richer content and experiences than a smartphone. We are working closely with our mapping partners to provide richer content and experience.

In short portable GPS needs to bring the best navigation experience to the driver, leaving out only those things that are dependent on being part of the car itself.

Q: What will that do to the cost?

WH: We’ll need to determine that.  Unlike mobile phones, GPS devices are more affordable, however strangely consumers expect them to last for many more years than they would anticipate from their smartphone, so there is a perception that there is less utility and therefore less value in your GPS. 

A good quality mass-market smartphone is several times the cost of a quality GPS and typically have only half the lifespan, often less. If we can increase the features, advantages and utility of our devices as the better in-car device over mobile phones while maintaining the pricing, I think we’ll do very well.

Q: What about dashcams – have they been a saviour?

WH: The dash cam market started fairly slowly five years ago and has really accelerated in the past three. Now around half the insurance claims made include dash cam footage as evidence.

It’s becoming more sophisticated, and people are now searching for products that guarantee great quality footage, not just any old footage.  Proving fault in an insurance claim can be impossible if your evidence isn’t there – impossible to read number plates, wrong colours, poor night shots, and so on.  And some people learned this, at a cost.

At a minimum a quality dashcam needs

  • 1080p ([email protected]) and preferably 2K or 4K
  • Optical glass lens
  • HDR or Wide Dynamic Range (to fill in details in the shadows or bright areas)
  • A full GPS tracking with the ability to map overlay it (time/speed/location)
  • Lots of microSD space (more than 64GB is good) ours is 128GB
  • And a decent three-or-even four-axis sensor that can show the direction of the impact as well as the car’s direction at that time.

We were early to the idea of combining a GPS navigation device with dash cam and our Drive Duo range has been a huge hit for us.  For countries like Australia and New Zealand where there is a large market for 4WD and SUVs and a real thirst to get outback or away from the cities, products that allow people to do this – and do it safely – have been very popular.   Phones just don’t work for this type of environment – they’re often out of range in large tracts of Australia, whereas the GPS will always have you covered.

And of course, even dash cams have grown to be more than just about the camera itself.  They come with speed and safety camera alert warnings and ADAS (advanced driver assistance).  We even have a product that will continuously monitor your tyre pressure along the way – perfect for large vehicles or when you’re towing a caravan or boat.   We even have a product built especially for large truck drivers including B-Doubles, the Big Rig Duo.

GPS

People are also buying more and more rear cameras.  These come as standard with a number of our MiVUE products, and you can purchase as an add-on.  It’s not surprising when around 30% of accidents are ‘rear-enders’.  Again, making sure that the camera is good quality, at least 1080p is key.

Q: What advances do you see in dashcams?

We’ve already come a long way with combo GPS/dash cams– especially with the ability to have higher megapixel cameras – 2K or 4K. Wi-Fi makes sense (park your car within range of a home Wi-Fi router or extender) and upload footage to a smartphone or PC, and more driver assistance like speed camera warnings, and even more ADAS features.

We’ll see easier software updates via WI-FI in future, and alerts around road conditions and advance warnings on lane change and so on to keep people even safer.