Author: Sven Hansel Photos: Haus E, Chemnitz;  Bigstock.com, Volkswagen AG
Telekom’s vendor-agnostic smart home control system
Get in, start up, roll out. Nothing beats cruising the open road with the windows down. At least until a thought flashes across your mind: “Wait, did I remember to close the front door?” or “Did I turn off the stove – or has the kitchen caught fire?” Unsettling questions, to be sure. And downright terrifying if you and your short-term memory are already a hundred miles from home.
Luckily, worries like these will soon be long gone for some Volkswagen owners. This year, the automaker’s Car- Net services will be connected by MirrorLink® technology to QIVICON, Deutsche Telekom’s vendor-agnostic smart home platform. Other, similar technologies will follow suit in due course. With them, drivers can access and control the lights, heating systems, indoor and outdoor security cameras and other home functions without unbuckling their seatbelts. No smartphones are needed: everything can be operated from the car’s in-dash infotainment unit, just as easily as the navigation system.
What makes this product truly special, however, is its integration. With it, smart cars and connected houses can act in concert instead of separately. “If in-house sensors detect smoke or water damage, they will proactively push this information out to the moving vehicle. Drivers can then use cameras to look inside their homes and bring in help with a quick phone call if necessary,” explained Rainer Feldkamp, Head of Strategic Projects & Innovation at T-Systems. Car/home interactions aren’t limited to emergencies, either. For example, the home control system can calculate an estimated time of arrival from the vehicle’s distance and turn up the heat early enough to assure a comfortable temperature upon arrival, but late enough to maximize heating cost savings. Drivers can even remotely open rolling shutters, arm alarm systems or turn on lights. This can all be done on the road because the system is fully compliant with traffic laws.
“We supply the mobility services while T-Systems contributes IT and communications expertise. It’s the best of both worlds,” said Dr. Marcus Heitmann, General Manager Volkswagen Car-Net. The two partners are clearly on to something. A representative study conducted by Forsa for CosmosDirekt, an insurance company, found that 86 percent of Germans are familiar with smart home systems, and over half expect the systems to improve their security. In fact, some household contents policies will even replace items stolen by burglars if your house is secured by a smart home alarm system. They will also pay to fix doors and windows that have been forced open. All because your house can talk to your car.