(NewsUSA) - We live in an age of new mobility, where the landscape of our digital life is expanding and evolving at unprecedented speed. Wireless connectivity has spread from computers and smartphones to cars, homes and cities, and it's simplifying and improving our way of living.
The rise of "smart" objects and machines powered by machine-to-machine (M2M) technology has been a huge catalyst for the Internet of Things -- a web of connected objects and devices that communicate with one another to make life easier. The automotive industry is leading the way forward with more than 23 million connected cars on the road today and projections for 152 million by 2020.
Connected cars enhance our lives with rich services, including advanced 3D navigation, automatic emergency calling when accidents occur and always-on mobile WiFi. They can automatically exchange information with other smart objects, such as traffic lights, to help reduce road congestion and improve navigation. They can also direct drivers to the nearest open parking spot and turn on the heat and stereo system before arriving home.
The possibilities are exciting and limited only by our ability to securely manage wireless service plans for the long life of vehicles and smart city solutions.
Until recently, updating connected car systems was costly and time-consuming, requiring a visit to a dealership to change electronic components embedded under the dashboard. Consumers will soon be able to securely update wireless features and even add new vehicles or smart home devices to existing mobile service plans via a mobile device app or website visit. The new "on-demand connectivity" solution makes it much easier to adopt new technology or instantly take advantage of special offers without additional service contracts or monthly invoices.
"In an increasingly connected world, it is vital to remove barriers for growth," said Gemalto Vice President Juan Lazcano. "On Demand Connectivity allows people to easily manage their connected devices while helping mobile network operators improve service offerings and customer loyalty. It's a win-win scenario."
The best part is Gemalto's solution adds a layer of data security that ensures personal information is protected when service plan updates are made. This allows all of us to trust in the connected cars and smart cities of the future. For more information, visit www.gemalto.com/iot.
(NewsUSA) - It's the bane of every cell phone user -- conversations that become garbled and calls that drop. These "dead zones," usually happen while you're on the road, and can be frustrating at best, while making you feel exposed and defenseless at worst. However, they also present a critical safety issue when driving during the winter.
As winter weather wreaks havoc on roads (never mind cell phone coverage), it becomes more important than ever to stay connected to family and friends -- whether it's to let them know you're running late, stuck in traffic or in an emergency situation.
That's why zBoost, a Georgia-based company that develops and manufactures cell phone signal boosters, is helping people stay connected no matter where they are, while giving winter travelers a sense of safety and security.
"As a realtor in snowy Ohio, I am on the road showing homes or visiting family, and I'm dependent on my mobile phone to stay connected," said Lisa Van Doting. "Before adding my zBoost Mobile1 cell phone signal booster, I was frequently in areas with no cell service, which left me disconnected and vulnerable in emergency situations."
The way it works is the zBoost Mobile1 is set up in the interior of any car or truck, and a mobile phone is placed in a sturdy, lightweight cradle (much like cell phones of old). The cradle amplifier connects to the dash-mount bracket and also connects to the vehicle's 12V power through a power adaptor via a USB cable. The magnetic antenna is mounted on the exterior of the car, which captures the signal outside of the car, brings it in through a narrow cable and amplifies it on the inside for a stronger signal, extending the in-vehicle cell zone (the phone must be in the cradle). The unit also boosts voice and text for all major cell carriers.
In addition to reducing dropped calls and combatting dead zones, it also extends the battery life of the phone, includes a hands-free option, and most important, extends your cell phone's range.
For more information, visit www.zboost.com/solutions-products/travel/zb245.html.
(NewsUSA) - If you were some innocent fleeing a terrorist attack, would you expect to be charged four times the normal cost of a car ride?
Alas, that's what happened to some Uber passengers last December when the "off the charts" demand for a quick escape from anywhere near the 16-hour siege at Sydney, Australia's Lindt Chocolate Café automatically triggered the controversial "surge-pricing" that Uber and other ride-booking services also employ here in the U.S.
Even some of the app-based companies' (former) biggest fans say that's just a fancy term for price gouging. "#Neverforget, #neveragain," read the hashtags celeb Jessica Seinfeld used in Instagramming a receipt for a whopping $415 Uber fare during a recent New York snowstorm. And so many lawmakers across the nation have their own pro-consumer reasons for wanting to crack down on the industry -- lesser players include Lyft and Sidecar -- that you'd almost think the very idea of summoning a ride on a smartphone was Evil Incarnate.
It's your call, but here's what you should know before booking one of those cars:
Your driver may not have been thoroughly screened. Newspapers have reported numerous cases of ride-booking drivers arrested for allegedly raping or assaulting passengers. But efforts to subject the newbies to the same rigorous background checks as taxi and limousine drivers -- akin to a "Not Welcome" sign for lowlifes -- have been fought by all three services.
"Background screening is a public safety issue," says Gary Buffo, president of the National Limousine Association (www.limo.org). "Competition is a good thing, but everyone needs to play by the same rules."
Uber, for one, has touted what it calls its "industry-leading (vetting) standards." But that claim took a hit last December when prosecutors in California alleged, as part of a consumer protection lawsuit against the company, that their drivers weren't being fingerprinted -- thus making its criminal checks "completely worthless."
Good luck suing if you're injured. Some ride-booking services allow drivers to carry personal, rather than commercial, insurance. (Hey, they use their own cars.) Testifying at a recent City Council hearing in Buffalo, New York, Kristina Baldwin, of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, called that a "serious insurance gap."
Surge pricing can be a shocker. Uber did reimburse Sydney riders after getting skewered by the media. But New Year's Eve revelers in New York City, learning a lesson in supply and demand, apparently had no such luck. "The most expensive eight minutes of my life," the New York Daily News quoted one angry passenger.