The Blending of Cars, Data and Technology



I have to admit it. I’m a pretty lucky dude. I have a job responsibility that I do not talk about much, but it is sure a fun assignment for me.

In some respects, I am a product tester. I get to use the products that my company produces to perform real-world testing in hopes of improving these items. No, I don’t work for a toothbrush company! I work for a world-class company that is rapidly changing the way I look at the blending of cars, data and technology.

My Latest Test Subject

Yesterday I received a new product to test. This periodically happens and when the day arrives, it is always a sad day and a fun day all at the same time.

The sadness happens because I have to return the previous test subject, which I have typically become emotionally attached to. The fun happens because I get introduced to a new test subject. The initial impressions I had of this new test subject were so powerful and positive that I thought it would be fun to share these insights with respect to cars, data and technology.

Before I do, let me just say that I was only a teeny-bopper when I first took a ride in one of these. I remember the nature of that mid 1970’s vehicle and the fun times we had in it during road trips and trips to the apple orchard. I remember thinking back then that one day I hoped to own one of these. Although I don’t own this one, I get to test drive this one for a while, and this is why I’m a lucky guy.

As shown in the pictures below, the test subject is a 2017 Chevrolet Suburban. Although I had no part in choosing or designing this particular vehicle, there isn’t much more that I could have added to it, even if I wanted to. For this reason, a whole bunch of technology is on-board, the vehicle streams and receives data via an on-board 4G data connection, and the car itself is a work of art.

The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban

At first glance, the metallic tungsten paint job (Figure 1) coupled with the dark windows made me feel like I was going to be a CIA agent that would be guarding the president. Upon closer inspection (Figure 2), the fantastic paint job (coupled with the Jet Black(!) leather interior (Figure 3), quickly became my favorite color combination of all my test subjects so far.

The versatile seating (Figure 4) of the second and third rows is also very nice and includes video monitors for both sets of seats and 4 wireless headphones. I think little Jett has already claimed one of the bucket seats for his car-seat.

All the cars my company produces are now rolling mobile offices. With 4G wireless connections, On-Star, Sirius Radio, and who knows whatever else is stored on-board, there is no reason why anyone couldn’t be productive right there in the drivers seat (while parked, of course!) or the passenger seats while rolling down the highway.

There are multiple 110 V outlets, USB ports, round power ports, and everything you could possibly need to stay connected in this mobile world. As shown in the lower right picture of Figure 5, there is even a wireless charging pad build into the arm rest.


Figure 5 – Technology galore, everywhere you look, cleverly designed, unobtrusive but yet right where it needs to be. This is an example of continuous improvement at its finest.

Do you want to know about safety? Well, this car has it. Lane departure warning system and a rear-view camera that is integrated with a vibrating drivers seat to warn you of an impending problem. Traction control, anti-lock braking, airbags galore. This thing feels safe and performs very well in crash tests (Figure 6). I am sure there are also other safety features that I have not yet discovered.


Figure 6 – Safety Ratings.

Of course, the cargo capacity of this vehicle is awesome. I plan on putting this area to good use soon. The rear tailgate opens automatically, as does the glass window. I have never seen that feature is a big SUV before now.


Figure 6 – Lots of cargo room behind the third row seat.

Well, since I’ve only driven this about 10 miles so far, there is a lot for me to learn. As shown in Figures 7 and 8, there are things on-board that I am going to enjoy using like the Bose system, and the features controlled by those buttons. One of the things I really liked discovering is the cap-less gas filling port (left picture). That is too cool. There will be no more lost gas caps and no more smelly or slimy fingers after spinning the cap back on.

Final Thoughts

The connection between people, their cars and their streaming data is becoming increasingly more integrated. In fact, the health of your car can now be monitored remotely with the hope of keeping it running without issues throughout its lifetime. If I am really lucky, I’ll be working on this data soon. There is already so much data flying from these cars back to the home base that I could work this topic for the rest of my life any I’d only be able to see a small fraction of it. This is truly a remarkable time for the integration of people, data and their cars. It is time for Alteryx and Tableau to do the deed.

When I get in this car, my phone connects in 3 seconds. It happens so fast, that I cannot believe that it is true (I made a dorky video to prove this but I decided against sharing it in this article because I didn’t want to exasperate my already huge dorky reputation!).

When I leave the car, if my backpack is in the rear seat, the car reminds me to check the back of the car for infants! I can only wonder how many children could have already been saved by this technology. I just got full-body chills realizing the pain behind what I just wrote.

If I leave a key in the car, the car honks twice to remind me that it is not locked because that key is still inside. This car anticipates what I need. I think I’m going to have a great time being a product tester on this bad-boy.

So far what I have experienced is clever design, meticulous attention to details, and beautiful execution during the production of this car. I can’t wait to take it out on the road to experience the performance and comfort this car offers. I am very proud to work for a company that is producing a product of this quality right here in the USA.

This vehicle exemplifies why Chevrolet is winning so many awards. This car is much different than my first car: a 1972 Chevrolet Impala. Things sure have changed in the past 40+ years!

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