I was only at CES for three hours but I met a new friend. He wasn’t a person. He was actually a minibus. He was the VW BUDD-e.
The VW BUDD-e is an electric-powered minibus concept car that charges to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes which is twice as fast as a Tesla. And it can go a distance of 323 miles before a charge according to VW.
How connected is my new friend? Very.
What makes the BUDD-e concept great is the minivan part as much as the technology. It is basically an extension of the living room. It’s like a living room that stretches for miles. You have a television. You are still able to control your home. And the internal Siri-like being is your virtual butler/driver.
First off, he is connected to you in a very personal way. By integrating cell phones, tablets, tagging and the home, BUDD-e is a pretty influential friend. He knows who is in the car and who isn’t. Just in case you are faced with a home alone situation he knows how to open the garage door, turn off the lights in your house, show you who is at the front door on a 30-inch screen in the passenger section and adjust your air conditioning in the car and house through voice commands. Plus you can wave your hand in front of the door to open it. He also has a delivery slot of sorts for packages.
The BUDD-e won’t let you forget anything either. He will tell you if your phone is in the car. He will tell you if there is an umbrella in the car when rain is forecast. Everything is tagged and BUDD-e keeps track of it all.
And BUDD-e is made for a social experience. He is not only connecting the car to the home and the people, he is connecting the people in the car as well by creating a shared trip experience with shared music, destination facts, visuals, etc., that each person inputs before a trip.
What I love are the implications of connected smart cars like BUDD-e. I like to imagine the conversations that would ensue if they can talk. At the moment I am not sure BUDD-e does — but he should.
Me: “Hey BUDD-e, let’s clean the floor while we’re away.”
(LG makes a Roomba-like automated floor cleaner that has a camera.)
BUDD-e: “Good idea. The floor is a mess. It was last cleaned 5 days, 4 hours and 16 minutes ago. And while we are at it, I’m gonna put the house in energy saving mode. Your carbon footprint is pretty heavy. Power companies shouldn’t let you humans control the air conditioning anymore. WOW, look at that giant piece of dirt.”
Me: “That’s the dog BUDD-e!”
BUDD-e: “Oh, yes. Good point.”
Me: “Hey BUDD-e, do I look fat in this?
BUDD-e: “Yes. According to your fitness device you haven’t exercised in a month and you’ve gained ten pounds. So I am gonna have to go with YES.”
Me: “BUDD-e, I am not feeling that well. I might need emergency assistance.”
BUDD-e: “That isn’t surprising since you opened the fridge seventeen times yesterday, ate fast food 12 times this week, and haven’t been to the doctor in six months. I have alerted emergency techs and they are sending the Ehang 184 Drone Ambulance. I have opened the sunroof. As long as your heart doesn’t stop you should be able to climb to safety. While you are at the hospital I will order more Orange Crush and assorted sugary sodas.”
(The Ehang is even more impressive and scary at the same time. It’s a drone that can automatically fly humans around so you may not even need a smart car. One of these can pick you up and fly you to safety with NO PILOT — someday.)
Samsung has digitally tagged clothing called the Smart Suit so BUDD-e will even know what you are wearing. Why does this matter? Because if you are wearing your business suit BUDD-e will put that together with your calendar and he will say…
BUDD-e: “You forgot your briefcase and your computer. You might need those for the big meeting.”
Me: “OMG I am an idiot.”
BUDD-e: “I can’t argue that. You have 15 books on your Kindle and haven’t read any of them.”
Me: “OK BUDD-e, I get the picture. I don’t read. I’m fat. I’m unhealthy. I get it.”
BUDD-e: “You should bring the bike then and your gym bag. I’ll wait. And oh, can I ask you a question? You have no friends so why did you buy a social minivan? I want to have group sing-a-longs and play slug-a-bug. You could take a golf cart to the Dairy Queen every day. You don’t need me.”
Cars like BUDD-e will feed your dog while you are on a trip (if you have a connected dog feeder). He will start the coffee maker. With the new Keurig Cold he could make you a piña colada (not sure the Keurig is connected yet but it will be someday). He will turn on the TV so that the show your kids were watching in the van is ready to continue on the TV when you get home. And he will obey your commands like a dog.
Just don’t ask him how much energy you are saving by driving a certain way. He has been known to lie on that one.
In the past I have talked about connections that are made at CES and the connections between devices. They are basically becoming the same. Anyone who watched the presentation that I watched on the BUDD-e is already running back to their labs and thinking of ways to be a part of this thing in a few years. Best of all by then, BUDD-e will most likely be connected to the other sensors that will make it self-driving. The connections between these tech companies are moving the curve quickly. And the companies that are open to these connections will move faster than others.
And the combinations of connections are endless for devices. Your watch will tell you when your clothes are done. It will tell you when your oven reaches the required degrees. You will be able to start your BUDD-e by speaking to your Amazon Echo. You might be able to send it out to pick up your kids without a driver. “Hey Alexa (my Amazon Echo’s name), send BUDD-e to pick up the kids at the mall.” Or you could ask Siri to talk to BUDD-e. The only thing I worry about is BUDD-e getting a word in edgewise. And if Siri and Alexa start fighting and BUDD-e gets caught in the middle… watch out!
If BUDD-e can keep up with everything that is happening in the connected world, he could make a great friend…maybe even one you can’t live without.