Remote control for your car? There's an app for that

John C. Tanner
16 Feb 2010

It’s not exactly James Bond using a mobile to drive a BMW 750iL, but SK Telecom plans to enable car owners to use their smartphones as remote controls for key automobile functions.

SK Telecom is demonstrating its Mobile In Vehicle (MIV) telematics technology at the Mobile World Congress, showing how widgets downloaded to a handset can be used for things like unlocking the car, popping open the trunk and starting the engine.

Also notable are security features that alert the owner when the car is being vandalized or stolen, with a tracking app that displays the car’s location on GoogleMaps and a “black box” app that uses a webcam installed in the car so the owner can see who’s at the wheel.

Other demos include apps that track fuel usage and CO2 emissions, and also locate petrol stations and rate them by price per unit for the best deal. And of course you can connect the car’s entertainment system to the phone’s music/video library.

All of this is done over the cellular network, although the MIV solution also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity when the owner is in range.

SK Telecom announced plans last year to commercialize its MIV solution in China via its Chinese investment subsidiary E-eye High Tech Co Ltd. An SKT spokesperson said the operator is in talks with Korean carmakers to integrate MIV in their models by the end of this year. The operator is also pursuing an after-market strategy in China where MIV black boxes and navigation gear can be installed in existing vehicles.

Another highlight from the SKT booth: 3D mobile TV that uses a chipset that can convert 2D broadcasts into 3D video in real time.

A chipset developed by SKT takes a 2D video signal, examines every frame pixel-by-pixel to calculate a depth-map value of the frame and constructs a stereoscopic image of the original frame. Result: you can watch 3D video without having to buy a separate set-top box.

SKT is applying the technology to its satellite-DMB mobile TV service, TU Media. While 3D televisions require users to wear special glasses that blend the stereoscopic image, S-DMB handsets use a specialized screen that automatically blends the image.

TU Media will start 3D broadcasts this month, but SKT won’t complete development of the 3D conversion chip until the middle of this year.

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