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In Four Years, Most Cars Will Work With Smart Phones

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The Chevrolet Spark offers a stereo upgrade that acts like an extension of a user’s smart phone to stream music, navigation and other apps. Notice how few buttons there are, since the system relies on the smart phone’s technology to work. (Credit: Matthew de Paula)

By 2016 most cars will have smart phone integration, according to a new report from Juniper Research, a wireless technology research firm based in Hampshire, U.K. Aftermarket systems offered by companies like OnStar will help grow the sector to $14.4 billion in four years and give 92 million vehicles Internet connectivity.

This technology will not only allow satellite-based navigation and streaming music from the Web, for example, but it will also open up a whole new market to telematics services currently only offered through automaker-specific subscription plans like GM’s OnStar and BMW Assist. These sophisticated satellite-linked systems can automatically dispatch emergency services to the scene of an accident, help law enforcement agencies locate stolen vehicles, and even disable them in some cases.

Parts suppliers and consumer electronics companies are working together to create a standardized protocol called MirrorLink, being overseen by the Car Connectivity Consorutium, which was established in February 2011 expressly for this purpose. Currently, each automaker has its own proprietary protocol for in-vehicle electronics, making it impossible for electronics companies to produce a single smart-phone pairing device that would work with all vehicles.


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