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QNX at CES: a key fob on steroids

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Have you ever wished that your key fob could do more than lock and unlock doors, and chirp your horn? If so, you’ll be interested in some great tech that QNX Software Systems has developed in partnership with DotLinker and is demonstrating this week at CES.

To show what this technology can do, we’ve created a custom “key fob” app that connects to our Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG technology concept car. The app is written in HTML5, our cross-platform language of choice, so it will run on any smartphone. Here is the app’s main menu:



Remote repair, over the air
A really cool feature of this technology is that the connection to your car is hosted on a cloud service, thanks to our DotLinker integration. This approach could allow multiple devices owned by you, your spouse, or your kids to access the vehicle's state simultaneously. It could also allow your dealership to access the vehicle’s state online — with your permission of course — without having you bring the car into the shop. The dealer tech could simply pull up a management console on an iPad to see what’s wrong, order the parts you need, and book a single, quick fix-it appointment:



If the problem can be fixed by software, that same technician could make changes over the air. It might be as simple as setting a Bluetooth pairing option that you can’t find (aka remote device management), or downloading new software to the car (aka firmware over-the-air updates):



Dodging the vortex
How about a remote start from anywhere? The Buick Enclave with OnStar shows just how nice this can be when it’s bitter cold outside and you’re beyond traditional key-fob distance. This feature should come in handy this week with the dreaded “Polar Vortex”! Also, you never know when a coworker might need to borrow your ice scraper out of the trunk — stay nice and warm inside while he or she gets it. If it ever does get back to hot summer days (and it will, eventually), this same remote access could let you open your car’s sunroof or windows.

The key fob app supports remote start; remote open/close of doors, windows, roof, and trunk; and, for good measure, remote control of turn signals:




Where did I park that thing?
“Hey kids, meet me back at the car!” Finding your vehicle’s location is a modern necessity, especially when the parking lot is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Okay, the Las Vegas Convention Center isn’t that big, but it sure feels that way by the end of the show:



Backseat DJ
Finally, what about controlling the car’s media player from the phone? Let your kids DJ the car’s playlist from the back seat from their tablets or smartphones to keep the trip to Grandma’s entertaining. Just remember you gave them that power when they dish up their favorite screamo band, “A Scar for the Wicked”.



What if?
Now imagine... what if your next car came with a key-fob app? What features would you hope to see? And what do you think would be the killer key-fob feature of all time? Over-the-air updates? Remote location tracking? Or something completely different?


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