How your car will help control your home

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Credit: AT&T

Home automation and the connected car will merge if some synergistic ideas gain momentum.


AT&T is one company that is planning on consumers being able to control elements of their home from the dashboard of connected cars.

AT&T says that it is planning to link its connected car and smart home products via a voice recognition-enabled dashboard control. Home security will be the principal driver of the new tech in that case. But others are also in a race to bring functioning products to market and obtain consumer acceptance.

Two existing AT&T products – AT&T Digital Life, a home management system, and AT&T Drive, its connected car platform – will be merged together to create its platform.

Mercedes has a deal with Nest, the Google-owned thermostat and home smoke alarm gadget maker.

Apple and Google are also working on automotive solutions for in-dash applications.

Home control via automobile

AT&T Digital Life is currently a smartphone app-run home security system with a home automation element.

The 24/7 monitored home security setup includes controls for lights, locks, and thermostat. A-la-carte add-ons include a garage door opener, cameras, remote door control (to open the door for pet-sitters or repair-people remotely), an energy package for managing lights and small appliances, and water leak detection.

The new idea is that customers will be able to control all of this from a car dashboard via AT&T's connected car platform, instead of a smartphone app, as is accomplished with the original, and now aging, 2013-introduced offering.

Connected car platform

The company's connected car platform is called AT&T Drive. It's a modular system pitched at car makers globally.

The automaker can choose what to offer the end user, but it can include plain vanilla, straight connectivity, billing solutions for add-ons, data analytics, and infotainment, according to AT&T.

New auto-calling requirements

The word "global," inserted by AT&T in its press release, is a giveaway here. All European cars will likely be required to have emergency call technology by 2018. European regulators want cars to call a Euro-wide 112 emergency number automatically in the event of a collision, Reuters recently reported.

This European system will work similarly to how General Motors' non-mandated OnStar works in the U.S. In that system, a crash triggers a call.

That kind of required auto-calling technology will, in time, be introduced in other markets too, so it's a good bet by AT&T to persevere with it. Wrapping the whole thing around additional up-sell-capable offerings, like home automation and security, is clever.

Third parties

Not surprisingly, another part of the AT&T car-as-home-control ecosystem is that third-party developers are encouraged to participate in Digital Life.

This strength-in-numbers approach is an attempt to beef up the product in the non-standards-defined, scattered market for home automation and car.

Basic concepts

The connected cars are all pitching geo-fencing as one of the control concepts. That means that lights, heating, and sundries like home music are switched on automatically as the car approaches a geographic boundary.

AT&T's system can kick in at 20 feet, according to Reuters, who interviewed Glenn Lurie of AT&T Mobility.

And if you happen to be in the garage-door zapper business, you might want to start thinking of an exit strategy. They likely won’t be around much longer.

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