BMW has just released a major update to its Connected services which are coming to your BMW in the near future. To showcase some of those new features, BMW invited us to their office in Chicago where a development team is in charge of developing a digital strategy for a company known mostly for its engineering processes. The extended digital team operates in five different locations, Munich, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mountain View and Chicago. The Windy City office employs 150 people from 20 countries, and takes pride in a collaborative and startup-like environment.
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The latest updates to the BMW Connected service is dubbed, simply, Connected+, and includes things like Send my Routes to Car, Share Live Trip Status, Navigate Door-to-Door and My Destinations; all tied together to offer a comprehensive digital and seamless integration between your digital devices – phone, smartwatch, tablets – and your BMW. To walk us through the end-to-end integration, BMW has setup a demo revolving around all those new components.
The end-user scenario kicks off with an iPhone and Google Maps app, where the user inputs the next destination. In this case, the fast-growing and popular, and LeBron James-backed, Blaze Pizza. Once the destination is selected on your iPhone, the directions can now be sent/shared with your BMW Connected services inside the BMW and in your Connected app. The BMW Connected profile picks up the new destination and the user picks an arrival time. In the backend, the Mobility Cloud – designed, architected and developed by BMW – monitors traffic conditions to determine if a change in departure time is required.
In the mean time, the end-user can perform other functions through an integration with Amazon Alexa, for example. An Amazon Echo device was attached to a rig setup in the Chicago Office, taking voice inputs from the presenter. The fast-growing Alexa ecosystem features over 20,000 skills – Amazon’s acronym for third-party integrations with Echo – and in BMW’s use case can take commands like “Alexa, cool my BMW”, “Alexa, check battery range”, “Alexa, what’s my fuel range”, “Alexa, when it’s my next trip”, and much more.
Next in our digital journey in Chicago is a view at the new Connected+ command center inside the car where contextual elements change based on the desired information. For example, you can get rear time info on your schedule, arrival time and event timeline. If operating the infotainment system via the iDrive knob is not your thing, BMW has you covered with a voice control feature inside the car which, upon request, can display things your daily calendar, or even jump through different menu options. The presenter now takes us back to the iOS app where the Activity tab displays relevant information to your trip and daily schedule. Information blocks like your daily schedule is tied to an arrival time, if it implies a destination tied to your calendar entry. In the background, the Mobility Cloud continues to monitor the traffic conditions and will inform you if your departure time has to be moved up.
But let’s assume you’re running late, how would BMW Connected make your digital life more manageable? Long gone are the days when a phone call is needed to the other party, instead, BMW Connected now includes the ability to share your arrival time and the entire route with real-time steps. The information can be shared with an individual from your contact list – which seamlessly integrates with your Connected app or infotainment system – or with a group of people. Upon arrival at your desired destination, the live trip sharing ends automatically, or can be ended manually with a single screen touch.
Our digital journey now takes us to our first destination of the day, Blaze Pizza, and the iOS app can now display relevant information to your trip – summary, fuel used, distance, trip time and average speed.
As we mentioned before, BMW Connected+ aims to make your digital life more manageable, so it goes a step further than your typical office assistant. You can now also book dealer appointments directly from your app by transferring your personal information to the dealer’s booking appointment where you can select various services to be performed on your car.
The last piece of the demo involves the new and cool, Remote View 3D feature. Utilizing numerous cameras and parking sensors around the car, the Remote View 3D able to give you a complete overhead view of the car’s surroundings and display it on the nav screen.
BMW says that its Connected services continue to evolve and the technology team is exploring other integrations with partners while continuing to evaluate other user scenarios/stories which become relevant in the fast moving digital world.
See also below a video demo of the new features: