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AT&T and Harmon Announce the Harman Spark, a Device That Turns Any Vehicle Into a Connected Car

AT&T and Harmon Announce the Harman Spark, a Device That Turns Any Vehicle Into a Connected Car

Author: FutureCar Staff    

The cars of the future will be able to communicate with nearby vehicles or infrastructure, alerting other vehicles in real-time of upcoming road hazards or rerouting them around traffic. However, there are million of existing vehicles on the road without the necessary hardware to become a ‘connected car'. A new product offered exclusively by AT&T is one solution.  

Telecommunications giant AT&T and Harmon, a division of Samsung best known for its high-end audio products, have co-developed a new device called the Harman Spark, which turns any ordinary vehicle into a connected car.

The ‘Harman Spark', a small electronic device that plugs to a vehicle's OBD2 port, adding features such as emergency crash assistance, remote diagnostics, location-based services, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and more to older vehicles not equipped with internet connectivity. The Harman Spark works with 1996 model year vehicles and newer.

The Wi-Fi hotspot allows passengers to connect up to 8 mobile devices, keeping everyone entertained during the trip with streaming music, videos or playing online games.

"With Harman Spark, just about any car can be transformed into an LTE connected car," said Chris Penrose, President, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. "You get the most advanced connected services available on new cars plus some that you can't get anywhere else."

Many new cars today come with cloud connectivity, diagnostics, security, and infotainment, such as vehicle equipped with General Motors' OnStar service. But most vehicles on the road lack the hardware for connectivity.

The device is simple to use. After purchasing the Harman Spark and a data plan, a user can just download the app from the App Store or Google Play, plug Spark into any vehicle's on-board diagnostics port and they are all set.

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The Harman Spark plugs into the diagnostic port of any 1996 and newer vehicle

In addition to the standard features, the Spark allows for in-app payments, on-demand roadside assistance, driving tips to save fuel and more. New features can be added added automatically with software updates.

The Spark keep a record of the details of your trips, including time and mileage, and get information on your driving habits such as speed insights, hard braking, rapid acceleration, and more. Trips can be organized and saved by type.

"Consumers today are looking for simple devices that make their lives efficient and seamless. Harman Spark allows them to easily and affordably transform older vehicles into smart cars of the future with connected applications," said Sanjay Dhawan, Harman CTO and President, Harman Connected Services.

In developing the Spark, Harman collaborated with Tantalum, an automotive software company specializing in connected vehicle technologies. The company outfitted the Spark with a rich set of features, an ecosystem of services, and a payment platform.

Among the unique features built in to the Spark is feature that alerts the owner with a text if their vehicle is bumped, towed or moved when its parked. The Spark also included is geofencing, which allows parents to monitor teen drivers. Using this feature, parents or guardians set boundaries on a map and view the vehicle's location in real time.

For those times a driver requires some roadside assistance, all they need to do is drop a pin on their location allowing the roadside assistance manager to summon help to the vehicle's location. The park ecosystem also features remote diagnostics, so if a vehicle's "check engine light" comes on, the vehicle can remotely checked for any stored faults.

Drivers can even use the Spark app to pay to reserve parking, so there is no need to circling around the block looking for a parking spot.

The Harman Spark is exclusively offered by AT&T for $79.99, with rate plans start at just $5 per month for plans without Wifi. Plans including Wi-Fi are offered as both standalone or as an addition to eligible Unlimited and Mobile Share plans.

Harman Spark will be available starting Sept. 28 at AT&T retail locations.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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