Smart Driving Assistant ‘Automatic’ Can Now Turn Any Car Into An iBeacon


Automatic, the smart driving assistant I described as making my old car future-proof, has been updated with iBeacon functionality. The immediate benefit is that the connection between the Automatic hardware and iPhone app will be improved. But putting iBeacons on the road holds some exciting long term possibilities as well.

In case you didn’t know, iBeacons are location-aware transmitters that work with iOS 7 to relay data over Bluetooth based on their proximity to your iPhone. As a theoretical example, when you walk into Starbucks, you’re asked if you want to open the official Starbucks app for a deal on a latte.

How will iBeacon make Automatic smarter?

“Say you’re leaving a parking garage and instead of stopping to pay an attendant with your credit card, Automatic wirelessly signals the gate that you’re there using iBeacon, deducts the necessary funds from a credit card linked to your Automatic account, and opens the gate,” explains Automatic Chief Product Officer Ljuba Miljkovic. “The same system could work for toll booths, repair shops, parking meters, car washes, gas stations, and so on.”

The potential for partnerships with brands is definitely there. Imagine getting a discount on gas simply because you use Automatic.

When I spoke with Miljkovic a couple months ago about the future of Automatic, one of the key strengths he mentioned is the benefit of being able to roll out updates without releasing new hardware. By updating the app and Automatic Link’s firmware over the air, iBeacon functionality has been added for all users. You can order an Automatic Link online for $100.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a journalist and co-host of The CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Follow him on Twitter.

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