BMW turning cars into smartphones

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Connected+ will sync with your devices and collect information to help plan your day

The Province

CHICAGO — Imagine waking up in the morning and receiving a text message from your car telling you that you must leave your home by 8:15 a.m. if you are to drive to your dentist and make it on time for an appointment. If it’s freezing or sweltering hot outside, your car will automatically precondition the interior; not because you programmed it to do so, but rather because it knows you have a scheduled appointment and will be leaving shortly.

To achieve this kind of artificial intelligence, while performing a multitude of other tasks, BMW has created the Open Mobility Cloud (OMC). The OMC was developed in conjunction with Microsoft using Microsoft’s Azure cloud system, and will be a part of BMW’s upcoming Connected+ feature.

Connected+ will provide an online connection between your car, any computer or personal device you choose, and third-party services such as Amazon Echo (which isn’t yet available in Canada) or Google Home (which is). It will also keep track of your daily schedule by syncing with online calendars such as iCal or Google Calendar.

Like a storage cloud, OMC will require you to create a profile, called BMW ID. Your BMW ID will gather information, such as places travelled to frequently, driving habits and other info, which will be used to refine your profile, or can later be shared with third parties if you choose.

It will also have the capability to learn driver behaviour over time (Do you avoid highways? Do you regularly stop for a coffee on the way to work?) and use this info to calculate the most efficient route to your destination. It will monitor traffic and will update your door-to-door ETA accordingly once you get moving, using your car’s infotainment screen. Or, based on your learned behaviour, it will do simpler things, such as suggest restaurants when searching for a place to eat.

Using online services such as The Weather Network, and real-time information gathered from other cars on the road (such as the frequency with which the wipers are activated), it will factor in weather on longer trips and will readjust your ETA or route if needed.

Never mind scrolling though touch-screen menus to program an address into your car’s navigation system. Using online services such as Google Maps, you can send your route directly to your car from your computer. Or when Amazon’s Alexa (an online assistant similar to Apple’s Siri) becomes available in Canada, you’ll be able to dictate your destination to your car from your living room. As you approach your destination, you’ll be directed to possible parking spaces nearby, and then receive walking directions to the door after you’ve parked, through a device such as a smartwatch.

Live trip-sharing is enabled with Connected+, allowing you to share your route with anyone you choose, and allowing them to follow your progress online, so there’s no need to make that call to advise them you’ll be running late because of traffic. You’ll be able to schedule a service visit with your dealer using the dealer’s real-time booking system, directly from your car’s touch screen or your smartphone.

Right now it seems a digital future for the car is inevitable, and BMW is taking the first steps toward artificial automobile intelligence.

Connected+ is nothing like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which mirror some of the functions of your phone on the car’s infotainment screen and use your phone’s transmitting capability to perform certain functions. In fact, Connected+ is quite the opposite; it is an entirely independent operating system, which is mirrored on your personal device.

BMW Connected+ is not yet available in Canada because, being one of the first carmakers to adopt mobile phone connectivity in the early 2000s, BMW created its own back-end system, and is in the process of migrating its local platforms to a central platform. The system should be up and running by mid2018, with Connected+ appearing in new BMWs around the same time.

“Cars are well integrated into the digital lifestyles of our customers,” says Thom Brenner, VP BMW Connected Life.

“The car is not a smartphone yet, but we’ll get there step by step.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc

Comments are closed.