Connected car concepts are nothing new, but a compelling one stands out among the crowd of half-baked ideas. Here at IFA, Deutsche Telekom's demo is one such example, thanks to its simple but intuitive execution and downright usefulness. A very friendly Telekom rep let us step inside to check out the concept from a child's perspective.
Set up in a BMW (naturally), the system utilizes an LTE hotspot, a few backseat-mounted iPads and BMW's ConnectedDrive service to provide entertainment on long car trips. Kids sitting in the backseat navigate to their personal profiles on Telekom's associated app, and from there they can access services such as Videoload, Maxdome (both for renting movies) and Audiobooks. There's also the option to view real-time trip progress via Google Maps, and kids can even select a webcam mode to see the road from mom or dad's perspective.
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When either child selects a movie to watch, the parent in the passenger seat receives a notification on the in-dash display. From there, mom and dad can view quick stats about the film, including runtime, rating, price and distance to destination (helpful for deciding whether that 200-minute title is worth it). Depending on whether the content is deemed appropriate or not, parents can approve or deny the purchase. Via a hardware controller in the front seat, parents can also pause and stop children's movies from playing. Deutsche Telekom can not be held responsible for any temper tantrums that ensue.
Parental control may be a huge part of this concept's appeal, but those in the back seat will appreciate the system's responsiveness as well. When the reps gave us a demo, content approved by the passenger seat's iPad appeared instantly on the child's tablet. Parents can also use their connected iPads to fling content to toddlers who aren't old enough to navigate the interface themselves; they simply pick which movie they'd like their child to watch, then drag and drop the title to the child's user profile in the Telekom app. This functionality also worked seamlessly when we tried it out.
Though the hotspot provides the broadband connectivity to pull movies and other content from the cloud, it's a smartphone or tablet (in this case, an iPhone) that acts as a server to control activity across all the gadgets. Android devices are compatible with Deustche Telekom's service as well. The rep we spoke with said the system could be available commercially in about a year. Make sure to check out our eyes-on video below for a closer look.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.