Can a Smartphone Make Your Car Smarter?
Five applications designed to control your automobile.
Industrywide, automakers have seen the future — and it involves integration of digital technologies that people use every day into the cars they drive every day. This is why we are seeing more new automobiles that can interface with handheld devices such as cell phones and digital music players. Motorists can already make hands-free telephone calls or even stream Internet radio through their vehicle's sound system using an iPhone's wireless capabilities.
But now automakers and some aftermarket manufacturers are focusing efforts in another direction: smartphone applications that provide some level of control over the vehicle itself, letting users remotely lock and unlock doors or even kill the engine when needed, for example. And that's not all these apps and devices can do. While the current selection of software is limited, here are five apps that mark the beginning of the next big development in automotive technology: using your smartphone as a universal remote control for your car.
What it does: Key fob makers beware — the first wave of car control apps can do everything your products can, and more, simply by a driver tapping a button on a smartphone's keypad. Mercedes-Benz's mbrace app, for instance, can do simple functions, such as lock or unlock the doors. It can also pinpoint a vehicle's location using GPS technology. Security concerns hobble the app slightly, requiring a code for the locks, and limit location-tracking to within a mile of the phone. But as the kinks of wireless car control are worked out, users will have other features to play with, such as access to a concierge to make restaurant reservations or track down concert tickets.
Platform: iPhone, BlackBerry
Availability: Requires mbrace membership ($280 annually, or $520 for mbrace PLUS). The app is free at www.mbusa.com/mercedes/mbrace/mobile_application.
Directed Electronics SmartStart
What it does: Replacing both the fob and the key, the SmartStart app can open door locks and pop the trunk without the user ever having to enter a pass code. It can also start the engine remotely. The catch here is the hardware: A remote-start unit must be installed in the vehicle, providing direct, secure wireless access to key systems. The system also allows users who shelled out for a compatible alarm system to activate or disable it with their phone, and to get text-message alerts if the alarm is triggered.
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone
Availability: Requires $399 remote-start unit or $599 start-plus-alarm system. The free apps are at www.viper.com/smartstart/.
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Definately an amazing potential for abuse by hackers if security exploits are found. Otherwise I think it's a step in the right direction. Combine this with a vehicle that can drive it's self and you'll never have to take your eyes off your phone.
They can park by themselves. So what, if they cannot find a parking spot?
Until there is an app that drives me home after a long night at the pub, I refuse to be impressed. My 1908, 1hp buggy could do that, without any problem.
If You Don't appreciate this sort of tech.. You will never fly your own Car...
With this sort of advanced gagetry. My Only Question is simple..
WHY do I Need Fossile Fuel to go to the Store...
Tar and Feather any one in politics, or Big Oil.. Ship them all to Afganistan and let them live in peace, with the rest of their kind.. Bring our soldiers home..