The idea of connected cars integrating with smart homes has been tossed around countless times. In fact, it’s no longer just an idea; it’s a reality. Will it succeed? Who knows? But until we have an answer, here’s everything you need to know about connected cars.
What’s In It For Us?
The convergence of connected car and smart home ecosystems was one of the hottest topics at CES2016. Experts believe that future innovations will focus on giving consumers a seamless user-experience. And for that to happen, markets will have to merge. What benefits will this bring to consumers? What groundwork is already in place? Let’s take a look.
BMW + SmartThings and IFTTT
In 2013, BMW introduced their connected car platform, ConnectedDrive Services. Earlier this year, they announced that ConnectedDrive Services will partner with SmartThings. The integration allows SmartThings users to access their home devices directly from their BMW’s (model 2013 and later) in-car display. You can do things like control devices, activate Routines, and receive alerts about what’s going on in your home. Your car’s location can also tell your SmartThings-controlled garage door to open when you are near. BMW is also working on another project that will enhance their partnership with smart homes. The project, the BMW Connected app, has a long way to go, but is already in motion. The app integrates your car’s navigation system with your calendar and live traffic updates. It lets you call your contacts directly from the display and can even send location information to your contacts. The service runs on Microsoft Azure, which gives it the ability to learn. For example, if you go to work on weekdays at 8 am, it can put your workplace’s location on top of suggested locations in your navigator. Soon, BMW plans to add more features to the app. They might also migrate the ConnectedDrive Services app to the Connected app to lessen the clutter on your smartphone. Another way BMW has integrated their connected car platform with the smart home is through IFTTT. IFTTT is an app that you can use to create rules for your smart home devices and apps. Rules are in the “If… then…” format. Sample BMW rules are “If BMW arrives home, turn on Hue lights” and “If you arrive home, signal Garageio to open your garage door”.
Ford + Alexa and Wink
Ford SYNC Connect is Ford’s version of connected cars. It allows users to lock/unlock, start, or locate their cars using a smartphone. Ford is working on expanding SYNC Connect’s capabilities by integrating it with the popular voice assistant, Alexa. The integration works two-ways. When you’re home, you can tell Alexa (through Amazon Echo) to start/stop your car’s engine or lock/unlock its doors. You can also ask her details about your car, like tire pressure readings, fuel levels, charge status (for electric cars), mileage summary, or its current location. Inside the car, a voice-recognition button mounted on the steering wheel gives you access to Alexa. You can ask her for traffic and weather reports, make her play music, create a shopping list, and even access Alexa-connected devices you have at home. For instance, you can ask her to turn your lights on before you arrive home or to arm your security system as you leave for the day. One more Ford SYNC integration is with Wink. This integration allows you to access and control your Wink devices directly from your car’s display or with voice control using Ford SYNC’s built-in voice recognition. It allows you to do things like turn lights on, lock and unlock your doors, or open the garage door. Anything you can control with your Wink app, you can control from your car.
Volkswagen + LG
Volkswagen and LG’s approach is different. Instead of integrating 2 existing platforms together, they’ve committed to building a connected car platform that will integrate with a smart home platform. However, their goals are similar to other integrations. For one, they want the connected car platform to be able to control and monitor smart home devices. They also want it to be able to deliver notifications to the driver in a safe manner. And finally, they want to develop a next-generation entertainment system.