Hacker threat to connected cars

Another car-hackingpost about the threat to the connected car from hackers, here in the LA Times. It’s not a real story with any evidence that this is actually happening, just a claim by security experts that they did it. I don’t want to seem either cynical or complacent, and I know that it’s important for connected cars to be secure. But the words ‘Y2K Bug‘ do come to mind. Generally speaking car theft seems to be on the decline. That might be, as this article suggests, because cars have become more secure – so the hacker threat might be the pendulum swinging back in favour of the criminal. But most other kinds of physical crime are on the decline too, despite the recession in developed countries. Something about demographics, or better opportunities for criminals elsewhere, I think.

Getting in the car when it’s cold

Spent last week in Sweden, where the highlights included a good briefing from Volvo Cars which included a session about its smartphone-enhanced telematics service, Volvo On Call. The telematics service has been available for around 14 years, though obviously the smartphone app as a control system is rather newer. One of the main use cases for the telematics service is to allow Swedes to turn on the car heater so as to warm the vehicle up without having to leave the house; it’s easy to scoff at this sort of thing if you haven’t experienced the Scandinavian winter.

On the flight back I discovered (via the in-flight magazine – who says there’s no point in reading them?) that there is an after-market alternative via the Norwegian company DEFA, which does pretty much the same thing – warm up the engine, the interior of the car, and charge the battery. It seems to require that you add new physical devices to the car though – a new heater, a new battery charging system, an engine pre-heater.


Is this the stupidest connected home product ever?

Yes, the long wait is over. Now you can switch your kettle on without having to walk over to it, with this super new wifi-enabled kettle and smartphone app. This could save you perhaps a minute, because you won’t have to actually go to the kettle and then wait there while it boils. Now it will have boiled and switched itself off by the time you get there. Providing that you remember to go there after you put it on. Otherwise you’ll just have to do it again.

Could you perhaps use an IFTTT recipe to put the kettle on when you approach your house/flat? Because then you wouldn’t have to wait those thirty seconds or so to make a cup of tea…

Who is this aimed at? I can’t think of anyone, except perhaps the ‘much-more-money-than-sense’ segment.

My name is Ozymandias…

Well, this announcement wraps it up; final confirmation that the Nokia brand disappears from the handset market this once owned. Aozymandias-charles-griffith longer reflection on this may follow, but for now, a brief doffing of hat, to mark the passing of a giant whose career in telecoms was sort of contemporaneous with my own, if somewhat more successful. On the other hand, I’m still here.

As for the title of this post, see this poem by Shelley.


Telefonica rolls out retrofit connected car product and service

Telefonica announced an app and a plug-device (fits in to the OBD2 port) to support smarter car applications on older models at the IAA carIT congress in Hannover. It supports ‘eco-driving’ – fuel consumption tracking, really – some car diagnostics, and a tracking security service. The latter is surely a differentiator against the OTT apps offered by the likes of Dash and Moj.io, because their services are essentially tethered from the OBD2 device to the user’s smartphone in the car; the Telefonica device, supplied by Zubie, has a GPS (and presumably also data connectivity – otherwise how would you find the car?) built in.

Interesting to see whether customers care about this difference; O2 Germany plans to charge €5 a month. This isn’t much, but if you don’t want to interrogate your car when you aren’t in it then it’s not particularly attractive.

Interesting also to speculate about the relationship between this service and one that was darkly hinted at during MWC 2014, but never officially announced.

The poor walk to work, and so do the rich

This paper analyses the data from the census about how people travel to work. The richer you are, the more likely you are to drive – unless you are in the richest segment of all, in which case you are slightly more likely to walk or cycle.

Well, that’s interesting – partly because, as the authors point out, that’s one aspect of poor people’s lifestyle that is actually good for them – and perhaps not surprisingly not one we hear a lot about compared to the consumption of cigarettes, booze and crap food. But also because it reflects a changing pattern of city dwelling, where as in other countries the rich are moving back into the inner cities and the poor are being pushed out to the periphery. Owning a car is no longer a signifier of wealth; being able to walk to work is. Danny Dorling makes this point in his rather good book ‘The 32 Stops‘. I’m surprised more people haven’t made the link between traffic congestion, travel to work times and gentrification.