Lock, Unlock, Remote-Start And Monitor Your Car Using Mobile Phone

Key-Less Entry: Current Trend
There are several gadgets that exploit the power of radio signals. One such gadget is the mini plastic fob, which houses a key-less entry system, used in automobiles. A key-less entry system is a brilliant innovation, which has always caught my imagination. Over the last few years, there has been a considerable amount of advancement in the field of key-less entry systems. For instance, car manufacturers such as Nissan, BMW and Ford have been rolling out car models, equipped with a smart keys. Check out this wiki link to see how a smart key works.
Though key-less entry is a neat innovation, there is definitely scope for more value additions; all of which, can be implemented by making a simple change to the hardware. The change would be to remove the plastic fob from the picture, and replace it with a mobile phone. Take a closer look at the pictures below, and you'll understand what I mean.

Proposed Innovation
Figure A depicts today's technology. Figure B, is tomorrow's technology (imaginary)- the concept will still be the same. i.e, there will be a radio signal transmitter, and a receiver, which will enable the driver to lock or unlock the vehicle remotely. However, the plastic fob that transmits the radio signals to the vehicle, should be replaced by a mobile phone. Can a mobile phone function as a key-less entry device? Why not? When it can take pictures, record and playback songs and video in HD quality, tune in to FM, communicate with fellow-devices via Infrared and Bluetooth, can't it broadcast radio signals to a car's receiver? If mobile phones were capable of doing that, auto makers can get rid of the additional piece of hardware (plastic fob) they ship along with every smart key, and cut down on the associated costs. Automobile manufacturers would be able to leverage on a hardware that a customer already has - a mobile phone. However, the auto-makers would have to come up with a software or a mobile app, which can be installed on a customer's mobile phone. This app should directly interact with the mobile phone's hardware, so it can communicate with the vehicle's receiver. Given the pace with which the mobile phone operating systems such as Android, iOS, Symbian and RIM have been growing, it shouldn't be a big deal. I know, it's easier said than done. But, the goal of this blog is just that - say something that doesn't exist, so someone gives it a thought and actually does it!

Further Enhancements & Value Additions
Replacing the plastic fob with a mobile phone, would pave the way for a host of innovations. However, all of them would have to be backed by an appropriate software, authorized by the vehicle manufacturer. The following are some useful innovations that I can think of.
Use Your Mobile Phone As a Remote Monitoring Device
A GPS enabled mobile phone records the places and the stoppage times of a vehicle, every time it is locked or unlocked. The recorded information is then emailed to the desired id, or stored in an authenticated web-cloud, which can be easily accessed later. The notification times and interval can be preset on the mobile phone itself. If your teenage daughter takes your car out for a Saturday night party, this information can be used to track your vehicle down. Google Latitude already incorporates a tracking feature, but it is more real-time. It cannot show the history of stoppages. Moreover, if your daughter switches off the mobile phone, there is no way you can track your car down.

Remote-Start Your Car, Using Your Mobile Phone
Including a remote-starter in the software would be a nice-to have feature. Unlike the conventional remote-starters that can operate only over a range, this one would enable you to even start your car from another country! Wouldn’t that be cool? How would it work? Maybe via an in-built GPS receiver in your car, which could be controlled from an authenticated- GPS-enabled mobile phone, or perhaps even via the web? If the ignition system of your car can be activated by a GPS signal, can we ask for anything better? Speaking of remote-starters, the advantage of using a remote-starter is that you don’t have to be dressed AT  

ALL, to start your car *grin*!

Voice-Activated Control, Via Mobile Phone
Let’s add more zeal to the above innovation. How about incorporating a voice-controlled feature to complement the remote-starter? You press a button on your phone, and say, “Accord babe, get started now. I’ll join you in another 5 minutes”, or say something like, “BMW, start now, and turn off, after 15 mins”. All the snow would melt, and you’d still be watching the soccer match, without having moved an inch!

Get Streaming Video of Your Car on Your Mobile Phone, 24/7

With Google Street View, one can literally see the images of streets. Why not write an Android or iOS app, which can harness this technology to actually capture the movement of your car in real-time, and transmit ? Let’s say your car gets stolen, and is currently being driven in I-84E, close to Exit 17. What if you were able to see your car and also the culprit who’s driving it? Think about it!

Your Mobile Phone Is Your All-In-One Remote Control
Would you embrace the idea of having a do-it-all remote? Apart from using it as a key-less entry device, a remote-starter, and a remote monitoring device, how convenient would it be to use your mobile phone to control your car’s audio system?   

Well, I can go on and on. But, I’d like to stop here. If you have more to add, please feel free to chime in!   

Imaginatively Yours,
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