The introduction of computerized components inside of cars changed the auto industry forever. New standards made it possible for technicians to run diagnostics on a car by plugging a computer into a special port under the hood. Integrated computer systems became common in the transmissions and dashboards of new vehicles. Satellite Internet, global position systems (GPS) and readers for thumb drives are now all commonplace in certain types of cars. The newest trend that is causing owners to appreciate modern technology even more is the ability of vehicles to work with smart phones. Smart phones and cars can work together to provide several options while driving.
Docking stations are becoming standard in the newest cars. These small slots have connectors that accept a mobile device. The dock allows a smart device with the right software to interact with a computer inside of the car and to access some of the systems in the vehicle dashboard. The entertainment system of the car can play any digital media that is stored on or downloaded by the device. Vans with built-in monitors allow passengers to watch movies or clips downloaded directly from an online source. Most smart phones even have voice activation features so a driver never diverts attention away from the road.
The GPS system that is on the dashboard of a car is a limited device. It runs software but is bound to hardware for a large amount of functionality. Most new smart phones come with GPS capabilities built into the device. Any software installed on the phone is able to access the GPS hardware. This means that a smart phone is a much more valuable navigation tool than a static GPS system that cannot be upgraded to include new features. Additionally, businesses or individuals can write applications that provide custom navigation to a single spot in a fun way. The same hardware and software technology allows users to play real-world games that involve driving to new locations.
A smart phone helps in the car by providing a constant way to communicate with others. It is not legal or safe to use a smart phone while driving. Passengers and hands-free systems, however, allow the driver to receive small communications or notifications from others. This could be traffic reports, changes in reservations or notifications from a babysitter. A mobile device is also valuable in emergencies. Insurance companies are starting to issue applications for the devices that provide fast access to an agent and policy information. The same applications are able to interface with monitoring devices in the car so that a documented record of the car’s actions is available.
Smart phones are dynamic devices. They are able to download and use new applications and even interface with new pieces of hardware in a car. One concept in development is the smart phone as a complete access solution. The device will open cars, start the engine and then send updates about where the driver is currently located through social media. An even bolder vision sees the smart phone as the central device that will be used to program and direct self-driving cars across the highways.