There are two audiences I want to talk about capturing out there in the marketplace. One is the driver, and the other is the automobile itself. So let me start with that.
It's pretty fascinating when I visit the McLaren team at the Formula One races. They have telemetry built into everything in that race car. They have sensors everywhere: tire pressure, temperature, brake, shift points, acceleration points, braking points, all the rest of it. During the race, they download about four megabytes of telemetry per lap to a bunch of Sun computers in the pits. And it's kind of interesting because Mika Hakkinen comes in and says, 'David Coulthard is beating me. His car is better set up.' And they go to the printouts and say, `No, no, he's diving into that corner about another 50 yards deeper before he gets on the brakes than you. Here's the data. You're chicken!'
Now you have all these devices. Let's connect to them. Let's find out if there's something wrong with the car before the customer finds out.
I think that the global positioning system is going to be very important in all of this. Let's assume the automobile has a global positioning system and a credit card slot on the door. After the movie I come out and I say, 'Hey, I feel like driving a Corvette today.' So I go to a car lot, and I stick my card in the slot. The car adjusts the seat to my height and weight, and it changes the radio stations.
Think about the times you wish you had a sport-utility vehicle, or you wish you had the Corvette. And when you were done with it, you could just leave it.
Now all of these vehicles can be handy. You can go to the Internet and reserve a big Ford Expedition or a Chevy Suburban for the weekend. And the Web will tell you exactly where it is. So you go pick up the vehicle, and only your credit card will now unlock it because you've reserved it.
Every automobile should have its own Web site. The day the car is turned on at the end of the assembly line, you ought to create a custom Web site by vehicle identification number, or VIN.That's the URL, or the uniform resource locator, or the Web address for that car.
That Web site indicates who built the car, who the suppliers were, what assembly plant built it, which UAW worker was whaling away at it, the whole deal, right? You've got all that information right there, the day the car rolls out. The dealer updates that Web site when he sells the car. He indicates who the buyer is, why he's buying it; all kinds of survey information. All of that information goes to that Web site, and that Web site then starts collecting the telemetry on the car.
I'll tell you what: I want a 'smart card' that I can give to my three sons. I want this card to be the only way my boys can drive the car. They stick the card in and the GPS will know the speed limit on every road they're on. And when they exceed the speed limit by 8 miles per hour, I want a little beep on my cell phone that tells me exactly where they are. And I want the phone to automatically dial the car, and I'm going to say: 'Slow down!' I could sell that feature to a lot of you.
This technology already exists. You could build a Web site for every automobile you manufacture and keep it up and running for the life of the car. You'll know when that car expires. The telemetry will tell you if it gets taken to a junkyard. Even then, you might want to keep the Web site because you might want to know where the spare parts are. And that might be a really cool business. I think that's a big opportunity to take advantage of what's happening in the computer business.
Now, privacy is a very, very important issue. We need to make sure that companies aren't abusing and using information. If I don't want my car tracked, I ought to be able to flip a switch and know that my car is not being tracked. I ought to have the ability to opt out. Good Web sites will ask you, 'Can we use this information?' That's what a good Web site will do. And that's what a good transportation provider would do also.
Scott McNealy is chief executive of Sun Microsystems. In a recent speech to auto executives, McNealy described the role the Internet will play within the auto industry. This is an excerpt from his speech.