When you think Airstream, the picture in your mind is of the Classic silver trailer. The iconic aluminum tube design has been relatively unchanged since the Airstream Clipper was introduced way back in 1936. But the interior has evolved over the years and in the latest top-of-the-line trailer, app-powered technology has found a home.
"We're this iconic, old school, clunky, industrial art, riveted aluminum product. We know that unless we stay relevant for consumers demands, needs and expectations we'll become irrelevant," CEO Bob Wheeler Airstream CEO told Engadget. With that in mind, the company introduced Smart Control Technology. A clunky name, but a cool new way for campers to control their lights, AC, awning and heater.
The app also gives users quick access to the status of their propane tanks and how much water they have stored in the trailer. During a quick demo at the LA Auto Show, the trailer's lights flicked on and off and we enjoyed a cool breeze from both the front and rear air conditioners.
Helping to connect all that together is "Airstream Connected" an AT&T modem that not only adds connectivity to the trailer but also has GPS so you can find the trailer when you're out hiking. The $25 a month service is standard on the Classic, but can be added to other Airstreams (even old ones) at a dealer. You can also pay $360 for a year of unlimited data for that true nomad life.
This is all in addition to the Classic's already impressive interior that resembles a cross between a brand new studio apartment and a small yacht.
Combining its iconic history and today's tech is a smart move by Airstream. In the near future, it hopes to integrated smart speakers like Alexa and others. The system is still in the early beta stage, but I was able to turn the lights on and off and set a mode (controlling multiple elements at once) with my voice.
Airstream is also looking at figuring out how studying a camper's behaviors can help the system build a robust profile of that person. For instance, the app could tell you (based on your history) how long your battery will last and if you have enough water to hang out in the desert for three days without hookups.
Of course, none of this was generated in a vacuum. Wheeler got inspiration from a new car.
"Honestly, I bought a Tesla. That's how this whole got started," Wheeler said, "If we had the same kind of control and easy access through an app for the Airstream, it would make even more sense than it does in your car because you've got all these systems and you're in remote places."
In other words, we live in a connected world. There's no reason those connections can't follow us into the great outdoors.