Q&A: LoJack CTO Talks Telematics

May 20, 2013

Emad Isaac became the chief technology officer (CTO) for LoJack in February 2013. With nearly 20 years of product development experience, the “telematics expert” has played a significant role in developing some of the most innovative products and solutions in the telematics industry. Prior to LoJack, he helped a leading consumer, trucking and commercial telematics provider discover its niche in the truck and RV navigation market by facilitating its transition into the digital age. At LoJack, Isaac has his sights set on telematics, proactive driver protection and the connected car, and says his role at LoJack is “the perfect next step.”

In an interview with Restyling magazine, Isaac highlights what restylers can expect from LoJack and the future of aftermarket products.

How are you reinventing or revolutionizing LoJack’s products?

LoJack’s product is termed today as SVR, Stolen Vehicle Recovery solution. It’s predicated on proprietary radio frequency, so we have our own proprietary network that, in conjunction with law enforcement, provides a complete vehicle recovery solution.  It’s a stimulus response type of system. A vehicle gets reported stolen and our recovery network automatically jumps into action. We do this exceptionally well. But what also needs to be a part of what we’re doing is addressing how we can become more proactive at what we do? How do we prevent something from happening in the first place? How do we better ensure safety for the fleet and for every driver using a LoJack device? We’re moving from the reactive to the proactive.

We are also focused on several other key areas, including driver distraction and telematics.  That is right in our sweet spot and we’re excited to build our product line based on this. With today’s driver, it’s extremely important to be able to use telematics to record how things are happening in order to act before they happen so there’s no reactionary component. To do this, we’re taking what we’ve learned from creating the current technology and solutions we have built – the LoJack brand, our dealer network, and strong relationships with law enforcement agencies around the world – and adding innovative products to that capability.

What do you see in the future of aftermarket products?

I see more integration of technologies-combining efficiency and safety. Enforcement is going to be the key here because when new regulations are developed, there’s going to be a need to enforce them.

From the restylers perspective, I foresee more electronics entering the vehicle, among other things. We’re seeing more of the in-dash navigation; we’re seeing more of the infotainment type of products. Telematics can be a gateway for safety, security and protection, as well as infotainment.

At LoJack, we’re seeing the telematics environment more in terms of safety, security and protection – the ability to insert things that the customer may or may not see. Customers may not see the telematics device that is monitoring their driving performance, but they may have an interface on their head unit that provides more data about how their driving behavior might be modified to get more fuel efficiency, or how they might be able to get more connectivity, more safety, security and protection related data and information services into their environment.

What do you see in the future of fleet technology?

I’d say that fleet telematics is also starting to see a lot more operational disconnects. From a restyler’s perspective and in terms of fleet, they’re looking at ways to be able to monitor drivers’ consumption of fuel, how they’re doing on braking standards–so that play again between helping any driver modify behavior to control costs and improve safety.

What should restylers and accessory dealers be prepared to offer?

Enabling end users to bring in their own devices has and will continue to be a differentiator for products. As restylers think about the products and services they’re adding in, they should do so with the knowledge that the end customer wants some capability to be able to plug things in. We see more of the hacker mentality growing; end users are becoming more comfortable with modifying products they have. In some cases, consumers want more fixed capabilities, but I think they’re going to want to have the ability to semi-customize products for their own needs.

Another big thing I see coming up over the next few years is backseat manipulation. I believe there will soon be a system that will allow more flexibility for the in-car experience. The vehicle has become a short-term mobile home and office, so how do we provide that information, while minimizing driver distraction? That is where LoJack is going. If passengers can control things from the back seat – say the volume of music or the temperature of the car — that would eliminate some distraction for the driver, and of course would keep everybody else happy and safe.