Automobiles in the near future will be controlled with smartphone apps, will “phone home” in the event of an emergency and will be driven through a world that’s wired from top to bottom.
A major new partnership was announced Thursday that could help make that vision of the future a reality. Sierra Wireless, a well-known player in wireless and a provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology, announced that it has been selected by the ACTIA Group, a 25-year-old, 2,500 employee international provider of electronic equipment for the automotive market, to power the company’s next generation of connected automobile technology.
The announcement focused on a limited number of utilitarian features that could be enabled in the resulting auto electronics and controlled by smartphone applications: locking and unlocking the vehicle, turning on the heater, tracking stolen vehicles and complying with a European Union trial began this year to create an international standard for in-vehicle emergency phone calls manually or automatically initiated.
The possibilities in this kind of technology presumably go much further when connectivity, persistent location, identity, mobile commerce and other factors enabled by mobile devices are taken into account. Cities, roads, the cars on them and the phones in those cars will all soon make up a tightly woven web of wireless data upon which applications will be built and analysis performed. That could happen first in places like China, for example, where 160 cities have signed-on to the country’s Wired Cities program and where France-based ACTIA has been doing business for almost 10 years. Wired cars seem like an easy way for the number of connected devices in the wild to climb quickly.
Canada-based Sierra Wireless, in addition to producing consumer products, has already integrated its technology into a wide range of other markets including medical devices. The company’s newest embedded mobile module, announced last week, is just 15 mm by 18 mm in size.