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Honda’s Head in the Clouds with new HondaLink

New smartphone-based infotainment system to offer extensive apps list.

by on Jul.20, 2012

A HondaLink screen shows some of the available features with the new system.

With virtually every automaker now offering some form of high-tech infotainment system, Honda might have just seemed late to the party with the launch of its new HondaLink technology – were it not, that is, for the fact that the maker’s smartphone-based system will pull down data from the “cloud,” eventually offering the ability to access dozens, perhaps 100s of different “apps.”

The new HondaLink system will make its debut in the all-new 2013 Honda Accord and then expand to the Fit Electric, Crosstour and other Honda models.

Your Data Source!

The basic concept isn’t all that different from what other automakers have begun offering, such as the Ford Sync and new Mercedes-Benz mBrace2.  HondaLink will not only feature such traditional infotainment sources as AM/FM, satellite radio, CD and iPhone/MP3, but will also allow a motorist to access music, news and other information sources that can be streamed through a smartphone.

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Livio Aims to Put 1000s of Smartphone Apps into Every Car

New system would simplify process of adding new apps to systems like Ford Sync or NissanConnect.

by on Apr.18, 2012

Motorists are demanding access to smartphone apps like Pandora as they drive.

Long gone are days when drivers had to settle for scratchy AM radio on their daily commutes. It’s hard to find a new model in showrooms, these days, not equipped with FM, a CD changer, perhaps a hard drive and, more and more frequently, a system like Ford’s popular Sync that links to various smartphone applications to let them play through the vehicle’s speakers.

In fact, manufacturers have been racing to line up “app” partners, notably the Pandora music system and Stitcher news service, seeing a competitive advantage in the number they can offer customers.  But that’s not always easy.  It can require a significant amount of engineering resources to get an app and a system like Sync, the Mercedes-Benz mbrace2, or the new NissanConnect to work with one another.

Stay in the Know!

But a small start-up from the Detroit suburb of Ferndale believes it may have the answer.  Called Livio, it wants to position itself as a sort of software middleman.  Technology it has developed could simplify the process of connecting app to car – permitting motorists to access literally thousands of smartphone services, from music to social networking.

“My focus is to get apps into cars,” says Jake Sigal, the founder and CEO of Livio, which operates out of a small, one-story building about 10 miles north of the Detroit riverfront.

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A Car Key That Thinks For You

Buick system automatically prevents vehicle lock-outs.

by on Sep.03, 2010

You may not even need car keys in the near future.

Could a new General Motors technology put the carmaker’s OnStar division out of business?

A new “smart” key that will be introduced with the 2011 Buick LaCrosse is designed, among other things, to prevent accidental lock-outs, an unfortunately common occurrence and one of the most common reasons why owners of GM vehicles call OnStar, which can remotely unlock car doors for subscribers.

Automakers have come a long way from the days when a car key was little more than a ground sheet metal blank.  The new GM technology, which uses a small, built-in wireless transmitter, is one of a growing number of systems that build special features into the key.

Many automakers now build in digitally coded resistors or other systems that ensure that the key being used to open a vehicle’s door or start the engine isn’t just an illegal copy.

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Your Key To The Auto Industry!

Ford last year went a step further, introducing its MyKey system.  The technology allows a parent, for example, to let a teenage child drive the family car – but ensure good driving behavior by setting a limit to the vehicle’s top speed or holding down the audio system’s volume.

There’s no reason a version of the MyKey system couldn’t also be used to limit the behavior of an older driver on a restricted license.

The new GM key, which will debut on the ’11 Buick LaCrosse and other General Motors models, serves a different purpose.

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GM Insists Virtual Key Smartphone App Will Be Bank Vault Tight

OnStar will have six user security measures to thwart hackers.

by on Jul.29, 2010

Could smartphone apps give hackers control of your car?

With automakers creating new smartphone apps that will allow motorists to remotely unlock their vehicles and even start them up, security is becoming a serious concern in the era of the hacker.  But when General Motors launches its new apps that turn a smartphone into a virtual key to operate its vehicles, the maker claims the program will come with a level of security that would make a banker blush.

Jeff Ravaf, a software developer in engineering at OnStar, said the smartphone apps, which OnStar announced last week, will have six layers of security on the user side, plus additional measures built into the system.

The apps will allow owners of Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillacs to use their smartphones through OnStar to unlock or lock their cars, remote start them and check such vitals as fuel level and tire pressure. The apps will work anywhere the phone can access the network, not just within a few hundred feet of the car like a traditional keyfob.

The free apps will be available for iPhone and Android (Blackberry will not be supported, at least initially) later this year, but users must be OnStar subscribers to use them.

Once they have downloaded the app, users will log in with a user name and password that they obtain from the OnStar Web site using their OnStar pin.

Each device that the vehicle owner wants to use to access the vehicle will have to be registered. A verification will be sent to the e-mail on file with OnStar to activate the device. Multiple devices will be allowed to operate multiple cars.

OnStar developed a custom keypad screen so passwords cannot be captured by hackers, Ravaf said.

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By default, the system is set to off, so the user has to manually check a box on the OnStar Web site to activate the service. Lastly, the phone works with OnStar’s computers which sends the signals the car.

“The phone doesn’t interact directly with the car,” Ravaf said.

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GM’s New App Turns Smartphones into Virtual Key

New app uses OnStar to access vehicle functions.

by on Jul.22, 2010

Well, does this have anything to do with selling cars? Comments requested.

The automotive world is going smartphone app crazy.

The latest to join the fray? General Motors will roll out smartphone apps – specialized apps geared for customers of its four remaining U.S. brands – this fall.

GM will release a new app for smartphones that will allow owners to access all of the functions of a traditional key fob. No longer will the car owner have to be within a certain distance to control vehicle.

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Apps, Apt or Otherwise!

Say you park the car at the mall, but realize you forgot to lock it while shopping at Aeropostale. Just log in and send a remote lock signal to the vehicle.

This could also eliminate many of the calls subscribers make to have their vehicle unlocked by an OnStar advisor. So long as you don’t lock your phone in the car, you could just unlock it yourself.

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