The German carmaker is showcasing connectivity with Samsung's Galaxy Gear watch and also using the world's largest consumer electronics show to demonstrate a host of new autonomous driving features.
Proving that the line between computers and cars is blurring more and more with each year that passes, BMW, a stalwart of motor shows the world over, chose the International CES in Las Vegas -- rather than the upcoming Detroit auto show -- to reveal its latest connected and automated car innovations.
Monitoring a car's systems -- on your wrist
The most eye-catching of which is an app that links the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch with BMW's equally new i3 all-electric vehicle. In what BMW claims is an industry first, wearers of the smartwatch will be able to simply glance at their wrist to know how much charge is left on the car's battery, and receive alerts regarding appointments and departure times based on their schedule. Moreover, the app allows the driver to push route details to the car's navigation system, to check if the doors and windows are closed and to adjust the climate control before getting into the car.
BMW is by no means the only car company present at this year's CES; direct rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz are also in attendance, as are Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota to name but a few.
And like BMW, Mercedes has also chosen to extend its connected car features beyond the smartphone and onto the driver's wrist. However, rather than Samsung, Mercedes has chosen to develop an app for the Pebble smartwatch. The app will let drivers check fuel level status, whether or not doors are locked and windows closed and where the car is parked. Once on the move, potential hazard alerts are pushed to the watch, which vibrates to warn the driver with minimum distraction.
Mercedes-Benz redefines device integration and remote convenience. Photo:AFP
Parking with a push of a button
As well as smart device connectivity, BMW also revealed the latest fruits of its automated vehicle labors. The company has been at the forefront of developing self-driving car technology and has clocked up countless miles of testing over recent years. At CES it showed that its systems are capable of autonomously guiding and controlling a vehicle when pushed to its dynamic limit on the track -- something that is only possible when steering, acceleration and braking are working in perfect harmony, rather than independently responding to changing conditions.
Off the track and on normal roads, BMW has also been developing better self-parking technology. The latest iteration of the feature cannot only identify wide enough spaces parallel to the road for safe parking, it can now also simultaneously control the steering, braking, forward and backward movement required to maneuvered the car into the space.
All the driver has to do is press and hold down the button until the car is parked. Releasing the button gives the driver full control of the car again.