Is It A Computer Or A Car?
In the spring of 2014, I walked across the street from our apartment building to our parking garage to get our car and drive somewhere. I can’t recall where I was headed that morning. But as I walked into the garage, I saw two EV charging kiosks had been installed in our parking garage. I turned around and ran back to our apartment building, went back upstairs to our apartment, and told The Gotham Gal that we were getting a Tesla. I had long wanted an EV but the “how do we charge it in the city” problem had been the blocker. Now that was solved.
Maybe a month later, the Tesla arrived and I drove it into the parking garage to show the garage attendant how to drive and charge the car. He sat behind the wheel while I described the features of the car and when I was done he said to me “Mr. Wilson, they have combined an iPhone with a car!“
I love that story because never a truer word has been spoken.
I was thinking about that when I was recently describing how my new Rivian Truck handles off-road driving. It isn’t four-wheel drive, it isn’t all-wheel drive, it is any-wheel drive. There are four electric motors, one on each wheel, and depending on how the truck is performing, different amounts of power are delivered to each and every wheel. The software determines which wheels need what power and supplies it to that wheel in real-time.
Is the Tesla a car or a computer? Neither and a bit of both. Is the Rivian a truck or a computer? Neither and a bit of both.
When you rethink a system, like a car or a truck, as a computer first and foremost, amazing things become possible. Like over-the-air software upgrades which continue to add new features to our Tesla eight years after I drove it into the parking garage for the first time.
We have seen this story play out across many devices in our lives; phones, TVs, watches, thermostats, smoke alarms, light switches, etc, etc. It is an enormous shift in how things are designed and made and it is playing out right in front of us.