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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You guys are plain dumb and it bothers me that people dont see the point of these features. Well there is one thing to say. Don't knock it because you cant figure it out. I love my Iphone remote start. And the other thing I love even more than that is bluetooth phone sync. Nothing makes me madder than the drivers holding there phone in between shoulder and ear. Hey the elcamino can even have it. Safe is always good, and any technology that makes life less cluttered is safer.
So if you can eliminate the world from cell phones, (good luck) than this techno crap wont be needed, oh and elcamino I'm sorry you dont have anyone that wants to talk to you. Sometimes its easier, Right......
To me this is stupid, bunch of lazy people here in America. Technology=distractions. I have plenty of money and I hate the auto's of today, Its like setting in your living room. Will not buy a car over 1980. I drive a restored 1977 Elcamino, it has manuel crank windows, Door locks the YOU lock yourself, I have no cup holders and no TV cell phone hookup = no distractions. I get plenty of looks. Come on enought is enought. However this high tech may work for some people just not me, It's hard enought on these streets to begain with, just simply DRIVE and pay attention
based of my last post. The smartphone apps are totally cool and I can't wait until my car can drive me from place to place and I can use my tech while driving. I could do so much more when traveling from place to place.
Don't get me wrong, I love driving (when there's no traffic) but I love geeking out on tech even more. I would replace driving with geeking out any day! ;D
IT Network Guy
Some general realities about technology.
1) All new tech is underdeveloped (not even close to it's true potential), buggy, and full of potential security threats.
2) The bad guys will always look to learn how to break the tech or use it to their advantage.
3) The good guys will always be learning from the ways the bad guys break the tech. They will work to fix the issues and all tech is repairable to close the security holes. Especially Smartphones!!! That's why there's upgrades for the phone OS's. It's not just cute features that upgrade or are added but security too.
4) All tech is developed and made better through this back and forth crap. I myself hate it but understand its place.
The Point: do you want to buy the tech now and be the guinea pig or do you want to wait 5 years for them to work most of the serious bugs out and develop a really great piece of tech? It's way too early to know where this is going. The real question you have to ask yourself is; "Do you feel lucky?"
Well do you? Evaluate if you want to take the risk. If you think somebody will be able to steal your car or track your whereabouts then figure out if you can take that risk. If you can't take the risk, then make that choice and wait. If you can take that risk, then great you're helping everyone by being the guinea pig. (There's nothing wrong with this) If people don't play the part then tech will never develop and become truly useful and potentially life changing.
Last point whatever your choice, either guinea pig or conservative risk taker; play your part and don't criticize the other. We all play our part and we all reap the benefits of the sacrifices that people make. Remember there will always be people like me striving to improve tech so that it's safer and lives up to its potential. So the people who are taken advantage of will not have done so in vain.
IT Network Guy
I guess you could take the chance and be the guinea pig.
And maybe they have a new ap that quizzes your smart phone
to see just how smart it is today.