Hmm, this is interesting, Chuck, but I'm not entirely sure how much it really extends existing technology. How exactly are they a hotspot if you can't surf the Internet? Maybe I just didn't read the article correctly! And I have an older car (well, a VW van, actually) so I don't know exactly what's available via OnStar. Please enlighten me (and have patience with my car luddite-ness). Thanks!
Liz, they'll offer full Internet access, but not in the front seat. Full Internet access -- doing a Google search or watching a streaming movie on Netflix -- will be reserved for the back seat. As far as OnStar goes, this is a step up from 2G (voice transmission and slow data services) to 4G (mobile ultra-broadband Internet access).
Ah, now I understand. That's for the best, considering how distracting that could be! Good idea. So now I think this Internet snacking is much more filling...more like a meal. ;) Definitely sounds like an improvement over OnStar and something that brings us to the promise of WiFi anywhere. Thanks for the clarification and coverage! I guess I just did not read it clearly enough.
@Charles - Do you mean that this is only a boost of connectivity speed? It's useful for long journeys to spend some time browsing and may be checking mails too. This is definitely a good way for businessman who wishes to keep in touch while traveling.
Exactly shehan, this will greatly help to the businessmen. Of course there will be a anytime internet with smart phones, but it will only for the sake of connectivity, Personally for me it is not enough to handle any professional work(with the device). It will enough to the people who are always in face book or twitter.
"GM stressed that front seat occupants won't have access to Internet-based video or browsing capabilities," Really? What're they going to do- make sure the wi-fi signal doesn't wander up to the front seat where the driver sits browsing YouTube videos on his smart phone or tablet? Oh no, I don't see any potential downsides to this idea.
What they really need is something that DOES NOT act as a hotspot. Cars should be able to communicate with other cars and traffic tracking systems (anonymously) for purposes of gridlock control and future autonomous driving capabilities. But that's it.
Universal Internet connectivity is coming, nobody can reasonably deny that. Refrigerators and home alarms and climate control systems will have it. But for the sake of safety, I don't understand how anybody can see car wi-fi capability as a positive. I see folks "driving" while putting on makeup, texting, simultaneously juggling a coffee and sausage McMuffin (wait- don't you need to touch the steering wheel?) all the time. If you think there are distractions to drivers now, just wait.
I'm no nanny-stater, trust me. But there are limits- remember the saying "your freedom ends where my nose begins". Or in this case, where my rear bumper begins.
I have to agree with Chuck here - human nature has shown over and over again an innate desire to defeat any safety measures that are in place. While limiting internet access to the backseat sounds good in theory - it just does not seem practical. We will be seeing more and more fatalities due to our inability to control our desire for instant gratification (I HAVE to pick up my cell phone and see who texted me while I am driving - it could be important!)
We just got back from a road trip with our fifteen year old son. We have been teaching him to look out the window instead of at his tablet, and to converse with other passengers rather than constantly text his friends. Call me old-fashioned but I am very uncomfortable with these recent trends in car technology - both for safety and for adequate socialization reasons...
If GM will be able to do this I believe that they will be the pioneers to have the 4G on a vehicle. Because at the moment as I know (Correct me if I am wrong) only Mercedes Benz have the on car hotspot. That is also coming as an optional feature not as a standard option.
Any way that is the market that manufacture should address in the future.
And the other point is all the niche car manufactures now look at to add more features to the back seat passengers why because the customer use that kind of vehicles most probably have a drivers for them self.
Last year December I had a chance to participate some online research done by the Chrysler about these features. They are planning to have more options for the rear seat passengers for their future vehicles. USB Connection, Audio controls, reading lights, 12V power socket, cubby hole are the futures that they lock at.
@Pubudu – Portable hotspot is an option available on the market, but the specialty is Hotspot in the car itself. With my experience the connection speed of a moving hotspot is slow; I assume car manufacturers have looked into this problem too.
Chuck, this is an interesting development. Does it mean that, while I am in a parking lot I can sit there and surf the web. Wow! I also wonder how they will stop a front seat passenger with a tablet from using the hot spot feature.
As for obsolesence, remember that the cell phone network, on which this feature depends, is very good at supporting older devices even as new devices come out. WiFi is this way as well. If you will notice, most WiFi routers support all the older modulation schemes as well as the latest. There are ocassionally transitions, such as from analog to digital, but these are rare. Also, if the car companies are consumer friendly, they could make both the hardware and the software upgradable.
A good point was made by naperlou about cell service continuing to support older technology. Does that mean that the Hotspot is cell based or satellite? Can I replace my present 4G LTE broadband service by simply tapping into the hotspot from my house while the car is parked in front of it?
With my present broadband service I can do the same as the hotspot, but I'll make the assumption the hotspot will amplify the signal enough to work anywhere. In some remote areas I don't get a signal in the car.
I have a verizon smartphone and because they've gone to tiered (teary-eyed) voice and data plans I'm stuck in unlimited 3G world and won't go to 4G LTE until they reconsider or it snows in Hades.
If the GM units have 4G LTE they will be self-regulating. You'll buy your kids a movie and then discover what the charges are and never do that again. And you sure as heck won't be surfing in the front seat at their roaming rates.
Why do we need interactive entertainment systems in personal conveyances? GPS makes sense. Let's not provide the marketers another venue to junk our minds and experiences.
I don't see why this would be such a desirable option. My kids can already get all the internet access they want thanks to their smartphones. Why would I pay extra so that they can have internet access on a screen attached to the back of a seat?
As the article mentions, the hardware will probably be outdated by the time the car makes it to the dealer's lot, never mind after you've owned the car for a year. My kids can upgrade their smartphones every year or so. Is GM going to offer free hardware upgrades every year?
Then again, I don't even like automatic windows or door locks. The only option I want in a car is air conditioning. I am not impressed when auto manufacturers try to pump up the sale price of a vehicle by adding a bunch of options that don't add any real value.
I believe a lot of consumers will agree with you, Dave. Here's the response from Thilo Koslowski, who's been an expert analyst in this area since OnStar was launched in the late '90s: "You'll probably see improved experiences (in the vehicle) with an embedded module because you'll have the antenna and you won't have to worry about running out of battery." Koslowski also offered this thought: "This is only going to be successful if GM can work out very attractive data plans for consumers to use these services."
@Charles- I think this is a good way for manufacturers to keep track on their vehicles. They could use this connection to establish a link between their systems and the vehicle to have update information on mileage, service, faulty parts etc.
"I think this is a good way for manufacturers to keep track on their vehicles. They could use this connection to establish a link between their systems and the vehicle to have update information on mileage, service, faulty parts etc."
Shehan, like you mentioned there are different possibilities apart from making it's as a hot spot in vehicles. But when the entire system is opened through internet the security problems may raise. I mean whereabouts of the vehicle, altering the auto navigation system etc can be tracked by third paries.
@Mydesign – You brought up a very valid point. At the initial stage of implementing the technology we might not feel the risk. But as technology evolves the risk of unauthorized access to the vehicle is a major concern. Very soon we will see anti-virus and firewalls for vehicles.
GM already provides a number of diagnostic services through the On Star System. On Star already provides the functionality of a hands free cell phone as well as a variety of other telematic features. For example they offer turn by turn navigation as well as maintenance alerts and the automatic safety alerts like auto airbag alert.
Pretty much every new GM car comes with 6 months of the service free. That's the rub. Is it worth it? A Wi-Fi hot spot might make the system more saleable if they don't charge much for it.
I do wish that someone would start up an initiative to build a smart highway system. With data connections like On Star built in, it would be so much easier from the vehicle side.
Now that I have become an MPG nut, I can really see the advantage of knowing what traffic ahead is doing. For example, is a light about to turn red? How long will it be red? etc etc.
If the car knew what to expect, fuel usage could be managed much better.
"Pretty much every new GM car comes with 6 months of the service free. That's the rub. Is it worth it? A Wi-Fi hot spot might make the system more saleable if they don't charge much for it."
Itron, such technologies are good with clear hands, but when it comes to fake hands, it can spoil the entire systems. Recently a study conducted by one of the agency found that nearby passing vehicles can spy the datas through open Bluetooth ports. Similar thing can be happen in case of wifi also.
I agree with Dave. I like my cars plain and simple. i realize that may not be the norm. But even so, I have a hard time buying "People are demanding to be connected." That sounds like a lot of hype to me. Saying the market demands this or that feature or product is a disingenuous old ploy, and has often been said by marketers when "the market" has no idea the feature or product even exists or could exist.
Cars are long term CAPITAL investments. No sane person would voluntarily tie it to a specific short term technology device or service.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: The better solution for the consumer is an industry standard for generic hardware. Blue-tooth is a good example of a first step in this direction. ODBII is another.
For example. Define a standard slot that would go into the dash board or in the seat back of a vehicle. The size and shape of a compliant device would be defined (say large enough for a 10" tablet-like device). The connector that provides power and connectivity would be defined. Then, a consumer could go and buy a compliant device from Apple, Motorola, Verizon, Sprint, GM, Ford, etc. You can have hot spots, or for that matter, any other new technology no one has thought about yet without being locked in to one provider for the life of the car. Device broke down? Buy a new one (one that's better than the old one, for less). Can't afford the 10" one in your 2015 Yugo? Buy the 7" one that also doubles as your phone (and still fits in the 10" slot).
Which is why it won't happen until consumers are finally fed up and demand it (or the Fed's dictate it, probably with safety as the excuse).
3drob, thanks for that observation. Building this stuff into a car and making it difficult to upgrade or swap stuff out is about as un-useful as building some things into a house that can make it hard to sell later because they are, in effect, customizations that the next owner might not want. Wouldn't it make more sense to design entertainment and other systems as plug-in modules so you could keep the car longer and upgrade the faster-changing technology? Or, so you could ditch the car and take the electronics with you if that was your preference?
Much like an earlier story on wiping information clean, now you will need to worry about the personal information your vehicle stores and how to remove the information if the vehicle is borrowed, sold or stolen. Not to mention concerns that China or another government will hack into the database for all vehicles. I don't know, do we really need to connect everything, everywhere?
I had to design an Internet enabled coffee maker during the dotcom bubble; fortunately it never made it to market.
Taking your point one step further, tekochip, what's to prevent the technology to bug / track / record being built in up front? Who actually "owns" the communication? The govenements can ask Google to supply certain communications, are they going to have the ability to make the same requests to GM?
It's almost a curse to know how easy it is to spy or steal an identity these days, tekochip. I have been intermittently tempted to cancel my credit cards and limit my Internet connections, but neither actions are practical. I couldn't do my job without an Internet connection. And travel (which I must do for work) would become very difficult without credit cars. So instead of doing something about it, I (like many people) continue with the status quo and occasionally worry about the long-term results.
For my next car, I'll take the Internet connectivity option! It will probably be included with the navigation system anyway.
I like my cars to be well equipped, with all the latest gadgets that I am willing to afford, including full electronics and navigation. I've worked too hard to drive a plain car with little or no luxuries. Heck, I'm getting enough flack from other guys about driving an economy mpg car rather than a more upscale luxury or performance car...such as called a "geeky engineer". I enjoy luxuries at home also, including lots of electronics, full-on home entertainment systems, besides the obligatory computer.
The full electronics with navigation in my 2012 Honda Civic was barely $1,000 more, so I have that option. Still, I see a lot of the same year and model car without that "shark fin" on the roof, which means they don't have the full electronics...their choice. I really like the satellite radio stations, as well as the electronics controls on the steering wheel. Since I'm a "map guy", I love having the navigation map always there in front of me (my wife hates to read maps, so navigation solves that problem also). My wife's car is a well equipped Acura TSX, and she also thoroughly enjoys the extras. We got our college age daughters more basic equipped economy cars for their commuting to college, work and fun.
I understand your position, Ann. I've always been a late-to-the-party kind of consumer. It's not that I don't like new features; I'm just not willing to pay for them. At some point, though, they always end up getting thrust upon me. Nine years ago, I finally bought a car with power door locks and power windows because it cost the same with or without them. That will happen here, too.
Chuck, I'm like you--paying the highest possible amount for technology never made sense to me, and that's what you do when you b uy the very latest thing. It's called being an early adopter. I'm a late adopter for that reason, but also to see some bugs get worked out first, on the principle of "never buy v1.0".
Chuck, it applies to hardware, too. The principle of "never buy v1.0" may have started with software, but it expanded to include all electronics. IOW, not just when buying a separate software package or OS, but not buying the very first rev of any machine run by software.
"In the auto industry's biggest move yet towards connected cars, General Motors plans to install wireless 4G data modems on millions of its future vehicles, enabling them to serve as Internet hotspots."
Charles, what's the basic requirement for installing 4G data modems in moving vehicles. It's only to make it as a hotspot inside the vehicles or any other purposes. I mean remote control tracking , navigation etc through internet.
I sure hope that there will be an off switch for this technology.
First, there are privacy concerns about being tracked by this stuff. Secondly, I don't want to leave my car in the airport parking lot for two weeks and come back with a dead battery due to some hotspot sucking down my battery....
I haven't checked for a while, but some of the proposed OBDIII stuff had plans to implement live reporting of data, and that really angers me. I do NOT want my car streaming data for the government, manufacturer, or anyone to be checking! What I've read about the new automotive "black box" is bad enough. Heck, my older car from the 90's has air bag controllers which can have their data read by specialized tools.
What's next, inward facing cameras to report on what we're doing while driving?
Man... imagine you have steer-by-wire and some brilliant engineer decides they need to send out a patch because he discovers a flaw or vulnerability... so your car gets the patch, which causes an automatic reboot that the engineer didn't know would happen, which momentarily shuts off your steering while you're driving up Pike's Peak at a quick clip...
In my opinion, there is no doubt there is interest in 4G and the hot spot in cars. But consumers won't pay much or the convenience and there will lots of other devices such as the Google Chromebook that offer this same functionality at a very low price point.
We love our 2009 Malibu but never could get the blue tooth link to work with our LG phone. It is enough aggrivation to keep the almost useful computer stuff working at home without fussing with the car's problems also. I would favor fewer gimics to have bugs, and please no more touch screens!
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.