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Car and Driver: BMW Probes for New Levels of Life-Machine Interfacing with Internet of Things Concept Tech


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BMW has a strong imagination, at least if the suite of connected technology concepts it is debuting at the 2016 Consumer Electronics show is anything to go by. Between the “Open Mobility Cloud” and the BMW Connected digital assistant, BMW is hoping to leverage “the internet of things” toward its future customer experience by seamlessly integrating those customers’ homes, cars, and mobile devices together.




Open Mobility Cloud


Before introducing BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud concept, let’s start with the internet of things. Or, as the internet likes to put it, The Internet of Things. (Capitalization lends it more gravitas, no?) This is the idea that various smart appliances, mobile devices, and other internet-linked things will soon speak a common language—and that that language will enable them to be interconnected like never before. If you’re wondering how a WiFi-connected fridge might benefit from The Internet of Things, consider how it might someday inventory what’s inside of it, determine foods’ expiration dates, and, as that milk is going to expire, send you an alert to swing by the grocery store while also sending traffic information and navigation instructions to your car. Or, you know, you could just look at those printed dates on your food.


Anyway, BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud follows the same pattern, linking up cars with smart-home features and folks’ mobile devices and cloud data such as appointment calendars and the like. In BMW’s vision of the future, the cloud will be the hub of this intermachine connectivity, but it also will need a human-facing device to truly come together. Enter the “Mobility Mirror,” a literal mirror that’s also a display showing all of a user’s scheduled daily activities, as well as predictive suggestions drummed up by the cloud and various smart-home updates.


For example, if a user has an appointment scheduled at a certain time and place, the Open Mobility Cloud calculates the appropriate departure time; when the car key for BMW’s i3 is picked up (BMW is using a smart home and an i3 for its CES demo), the car automatically disembarks from the garage and waits outside for the driver. BMW further postulates that, upon reaching his or her appointment, the driver steps out of the i3 and is prompted on their smart watch to initiate a self-parking sequence. (BMW showed off a self-parking i3 at last year’s CES.)


Again, the whole point is to integrate future BMWs with future smart homes and users’ mobile devices in such a way that various common actions become automated, and even those automated sequences trigger other sequences. BMW offers the additional example of a user firing up their coffee maker in the morning, which in turn alerts their i3 that departure is imminent and to pre-conditions their i3’s climate-control system to a comfortable temperature.) Is this level of inter-connectivity near? We doubt it, but BMW nonetheless points out that Samsung’s Android-based SmartThings app also debuting at CES can be integrated with any BMW model equipped with ConnectedDrive Services infotainment feature.




BMW Connected Digital Assistant


If the Open Mobility Cloud’s being powered by a magical mirror seems odd for BMW, fret not. The automaker has conceptualized a digital personal assistant to manage a users’ affairs with his or her smart devices. The mirror would simply exist as an in-home readout for the user’s various smart devices. BMW Connected, as BMW is calling it, would be the Open Mobility Cloud’s user-facing hub and center mostly around the car. BMW Connected would “learn” users’ routines and preferences—and use that data to, say, provide traffic information along a user’s favorite route home without prompting, or send users’ phones a message prompting them to leave for their next appointment earlier as traffic conditions have changed.


Connected also enables the seamless swapping of navigation instructions from a phone or watch to the car and vice versa. No timeline for BMW Connected’s implementation has been noted, and while it’s forward-thinking of BMW to try and enter into the Internet of Things fray early, we can’t help but predict that BMW Connected will someday compete with more universal Android- or Apple-based solutions.


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