Elon Musk says that Tesla will eventually offer native video conferencing in its cars since the hardware is already there.
When Tesla launched the Model 3, it equipped the vehicle with a standard cabin-facing camera located in the rearview mirror.
It has been almost three years since Tesla brought the vehicle to production, and this camera, which is included in every Model 3, has remained dormant.
Tesla has yet to implement a feature using this camera, but a software update once referred to the camera being linked to Autopilot and “Tesla Network,” which is supposed to be an upcoming fleet of robotaxis operated by Tesla.
There has been speculation that Tesla could use the camera to monitor driver attention when using Autopilot — hence the reference to Autopilot in the software — and monitor passengers in a shared fleet of self-driving cars in order to discourage vandalizing the cars — hence the reference to “Tesla Network.”
Last month, Musk confirmed that it will be to prevent people from vandalizing cars when they are being driven automatically as part of the robotaxi fleet.
However, the CEO remained open to the possibility of using the camera for other features inside the car.
This includes things like using the camera to let drivers and passengers record themselves when using the new Caraoke feature released in V10, and Tesla also applying for a patent called “Personalization System and Method for a Vehicle based on Spatial Locations of Occupants.”
In short, they evaluated the possibility to use a camera to recognize occupants and automatically apply specific settings personalized to them.
Now Musk mentioned on Twitter that Tesla will “definitely” offer video conferencing inside vehicles as a “future feature.”
Video conferencing is becoming a big business, or at least bigger business, amid the coronavirus pandemic resulting in more people working from home.
Tesla could take advantage of the camera inside the cabin and its large center screen to deliver a native video conferencing system.
I am a bit conflicted about these types of announcements.
On one side, it’s nice to get more features through over-the-air software updates, but I feel some of them are just being released because Tesla can do it, and not because they can create a better experience.
For example, it’s cool to have Netflix on your center screen, but it doesn’t work great in my experience. Most of the time, you’d be better off using your laptop or iPad to watch Netflix while Supercharging.
Same thing with Spotify. Tesla has a native Spotify app inside its cars, but most of the time it works better if I go through Bluetooth and the iOS Spotify app on my phone.
I think that FaceTime on your phone or Zoom on your laptop is likely going to be a better option to use inside your car than a native Tesla app.
Hopefully, Tesla can improve on that front, but in the meantime, that’s how I feel.
What do you think? Would you use a native video conferencing feature inside your Tesla? Let us know in the comment section below.
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