Our lives are growing more connected by the year, but it’s still common to think of that connectivity as being relatively fixed. And yet the connected car is already a reality for new car buyers, who can choose from a growing menu of digitized features that operate in real time using always-on streaming data to make the driver experience safer and more comfortable.
For those of us not yet in the market for one of these technologically advanced vehicles, there are aftermarket options that deliver a level of connectivity that are many steps above what was available when our cars were new. T-Mobile has recently joined the ranks of mobile carriers that have released a plug-in device designed to bring old cars up to date. Their newly launched SyncUp Drive is branded as an “all-in-one solution for in-vehicle 4G LTE connectivity, driving analysis, vehicle tracking and maintenance monitoring.”
Connectivity in Action
While plugging in a dongle won’t turn a jalopy into a Jaguar, SyncUp Drive does hook up older vehicles with features that are just now becoming part of the car lot sales pitch (like connected safety sensors, real-time engine analysis, and smartphone integration). To use it, drivers simply insert the SyncUp Drive device into their vehicle’s OBD-II port (standard equipment on nearly every vehicle sold after 1996) and install the associated app on an iPhone 7 or other mobile device.
From there, SyncUp Drive lets you:
Drive better – The automotive add-on can analyze driving behavior to minimize wear and tear, alert you when you have a habit of speeding or braking hard and save you money on gas.
Stay connected on the road – SyncUp Drive delivers an in-vehicle wifi hot spot with T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network so long drives become entertainment opportunities.
Find your car – Finding a vehicle in a crowded lot is no big deal because SyncUp Drive-equipped cars are trackable when parked. They’re also trackable in real time on the road.
Protect young drivers – The device lets you set speed alerts to encourage safe driving behavior in new drivers and alerts that let you know when your car enters or leaves a certain area.
Take care of the car – SynchUp Drive can reduce your lifetime maintenance costs by making sure you stay up to date on routine maintenance and notifying you instantly about issues.
Designed to Be Easy (& Free)
T-Mobile developed SyncUp Drive in partnership with telecommunication system provider ZTE and Mojio, an open platform for connected car apps and services. The development team designed the dongle to pull power from the vehicle once plugged into the OBD-II diagnostics port so drivers can equip their vehicles with the device and never have to think about it again – unless they receive an alert that either the car or the device have been tampered with.
“With T-Mobile SyncUp Drive, you have a new way to ride on America’s fastest nationwide 4G LTE network,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile, said in a pre-launch press release. “We’re making it radically simple for customers to connect their cars with a complete, all-in-one package — and the best part is that we’re making it totally free at launch.”
Legere was referencing the fact that drivers who sign up for a 24-month finance agreement with a 2GB or higher mobile internet plan with T-Mobile can get SyncUp for free beginning on November 18.
The true car of tomorrow will be a technological marvel that likely won’t require any human control whatsoever, and the jury is still out on whether that’s a good thing. Today’s version of this futuristic vehicle isn’t quite as advanced, but with innovations like SyncUp Drive, even older cars can take their place among the ever-growing Internet of Things.