The Mobile World Congress is one of the three most important technology fairs of the year, and although it is mainly focused on the world of smartphones, Samsung Electronics impressed many with the debut of its Samsung Connect Auto dongle. As explained in a report from The Verge via Yahoo! News, the device provides a way for owners of older cars to add LTE connectivity to their vehicles.
The Samsung Connect Auto dongle plugs into a car’s OBD II diagnostic port (most cars built in the last two decades have this port) and lets drivers monitor their vehicle’s performance as well as locate it. The report also explained that it acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting to the internet with other devices while in the vehicle.
“Samsung Connect Auto uses real-time alerts to help users improve their driving behavior, including increased fuel efficiency, while offering a Wi-Fi connection to keep passengers online while on-the-go. The solution is kept secure using Samsung KNOX, the company’s market-leading, defense-grade mobile security platform. Samsung Connect Auto provides the mass market with an affordable connected car solution that places safety and security first, while enriching in-car and out-of-car experience. Samsung Connect Auto will initially be available in the second quarter in the U.S. AT&T will be the first wireless provider of the solution in the U.S.,” Samsung wrote on the product’s description page.
The new dongle from Samsung provides a standard solution to car owners who lack options already offered by some manufacturers, as well as an easier way to provide smart features to cars without having a service like Android Auto or CarPlay.
Like almost all new devices being marketed by Samsung, the Korean giant has backed Tizen OS as its operating system. According to PC Mag, its price has not been revealed as of yet and it is not known how much this feature might cost on a monthly basis, but it’s estimated to be around $10 a month.
Some manufacturers have long been offering the option of WiFi connectivity on their cars. Lexus, for example, offered a Hotspot device creating a WiFi network in the vehicle, based on an LTE router connected to the car. Lexus Hotspot is equipped with a SIM card reader, with WiFi data provided via a SIM card; owners are free to choose their data limit and provider. Other carmakers have also been offering similar extra amenities for a while now, but unfortunately they are sometimes too expensive.
With the new Samsung Connect Auto we can not only create a WiFi network inside the car, but also have real-time access to the onboard computer. Samsung is committed to creating applications for Android and iOS that will get the data directly from the Connect Auto or cloud. The added features are many and very interesting. For example, the onboard 4G LTE data connection sends data and location to a cloud server, which offers “Find My Car” GPS functionality. According to Digital Trends, the system can also let car owners know if the car has been suddenly moved, for example by a tow truck. Travel logs and expense reports are useful for company cars and those who work on the go. A virtual mechanic watches over the car and will alert you of any work needed — from oil changes to error codes — and will then guide you to a local repair shop.
Perhaps the best feature is that this is a device that can switch on and off at will, and will be compatible with any vehicle that has the OBD-II port. The Samsung Auto Connect will be launched in the second half of this year in the United States.
[Image via Twitter]