Automobiles Equipped with WiFi Increase in Popularity

by Aeyne Schriber on February 12, 2012 in Internet of Things

In the last few years consumers have become more reliant on Internet connectivity with the increased use of mobile devices and the recent release of tablet PCs, and an automobile is no exception to the rule.  Only a few years ago Internet connectivity in your automobile was unheard of and now more manufacturers are building cars with the mobile consumer in mind.

In addition to catering to the mobile consumer many automobile makers have realized the many benefits WiFi has to offer when it comes to traffic safety.  Newer cars that are equipped with WiFi and GPS are able to communicate with one another to help reduce the number of automobile accidents that occur every year.  This type of technology offers the ability to determine the speed of another automobile and alerts the driver in advance of any hazards before they turn into a disaster.  The following information will provide a preview of some of the ways automobiles are keeping the consumer connected while on the go.

Sync System

Original Equipment Manufacturers in the United States such as Ford Motors implemented a Sync system in 2010 and 2011 automobiles.  Although WiFi is not as efficient as a broadband Internet connection, when it is installed in an automobile it can turn the entire vehicle into a hotspot.  All that is required is a USB mobile broadband dongle to establish a high speed connection anywhere in the vehicle.

With a Sync system you can connect any device to mobile broadband while you are in the car and access any free public WiFi hotspots when you are traveling.  It is also possible to connect your automobile WiFi to the network in your home.  This way you can use the PC in your home to forward information to the GPS navigation system in your car so it is ready to use when you want to travel.

Marvell Mobile Hotspot

Original Equipment Manufacturers in Europe are using the Marvell Mobile Hotspot or MMH technology developed by Marvell and Harman in European model automobiles such as the Audi.  This type of technology utilizes a built-in Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) module which creates a high speed Internet connection through the use of Bluetooth-enabled devices or via a cellular link.

The Wireless Local Area Network access point is built into a wireless chip before the technology is integrated into a system designed by Harman for Internet connectivity.  The system offers a local hotspot inside the automobile which provides you with access to services which are Internet-based.  The system allows multiple devices to connect to the Wireless Local Area Network and offers low power consumption to preserve battery life on mobile devices while on the road.

Car-Specific Apps

Another reason automobile manufacturers are embracing the power of Internet connectivity in cars is to create opportunities for developers to make car-specific-apps.  This will not only enhance the experience for automobile owners but also create a competitive advantage for automotive companies.

The app economy is already taking off for the smartphone industry and by monitoring your actions on the Internet in an automobile equipped with Internet connectivity, more car-specific apps can be developed that promote safety and provide other conveniences.  It has already been determined that texting while driving has increased accident rates.  By creating car-specific apps that are voice activated along with other hands-free functionality automobile manufacturers can help to reduce the number of accidents which have been occurring as the result of texting.

The Marvell Harman technology in European automobiles may be even more capable of making car-specific apps due to its ability to provide a cellular 3G or 4G connection in addition to WiFi connectivity.  This integrated approach can capture user data with regard to access to websites, different types of preferences, and other data that contributes to the creation of car-specific apps which are based on actual consumer use.

WiFi access in automobiles actually began as early as 2008 with the inception of Autonet Mobile which was an accessory for auto dealers in the United States.  Autonet Mobile was first used by Chrysler and was wired to the trunk area of the vehicle and was unable to be removed.  The later versions of Autonet Mobile were installed for use with a docking station which allowed you to remove the connection and place it in another vehicle with a docking station.

Autonet Mobile allows owners of older automobiles to create a hotspot in the car through the uconnect system originally used by Chrysler.  You simply pay a flat fee for the router which is provided by Autonet and then Autonet Mobile utilizes the Verizon Wireless network to establish connectivity to the Internet.  The connection is not as fast as broadband but serves light duty users well.  These are users who just want to check their email and perform other light duty tasks.  You can connect to the Internet in the car using your smartphone or other WiFi-enabled mobile device and up to 150 feet away from your automobile.

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