With High Mobility‘s hardware installed in a car, a driver could park next to a parking meter, get out of the car and walk away. The car pays for the parking itself using the driver’s smartphone and a dealer-installed High Mobility hardware. Launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, the company claims the interaction is seamless for the user, that more features are on the horizon, and that their product solves a big problem for auto manufacturers.
The current state of automotive telematics and smartphone integration is a mess. As High Mobility explained on the Disrupt Stage, every OEM has a different solution based on a long development cycle – a fact I can attest to. Currently, automakers develop for a 5-7 year product cycle, therefore, technology that is in most automobiles is outdated when the vehicle is brand new, and downright archaic when it hits the used market. High Mobility’s solution puts breaking edge connectivity in cars now, although it’s still a stop-gap measure.
High Mobility is a small connectivity device installed at a dealership or factory. It adds a host of functions all powered by Bluetooth 4.0. Right now, High Mobility is focusing on payments using iBeacon, touting that when installed, a car can pay for a parking meter or gas pump by simply parking within 50 meters. Instead of using the vehicle’s infotainment screen for the interaction, a smartphone is used. This frees the driver from storing payment information within the car and instead uses a device they’re already very comfortable with (and already likely use to conduct transactions).
From the auto manufacturer’s perspective, High Mobility allows them to offer advanced smartphone integration within current models rather easily; it allows them to add more selling points to cars that might be getting a bit stale; it allows auto manufacturers to become more competitive, fast — something the High Mobility team understands very well.
The High Mobility team is composed of former employees of Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, Fiat and Koensigsegg. The young company participated in Startup Bootcamp Berlin, receiving $15k in funding and another $7,000 from a design contest.
The startup is currently solidifying a relationship with Mercedes-Benz and is seeking other partnerships. The device already works in nearly every car.
In a real way, High Mobility solves a big problem for car makers. When installed, cars will offer highly advanced features. The system has the ability, although it’s not currently enabled, to also control locks, climate system, and even preset cars based on which smartphone is active on the account. But while these features seem advanced today, there will come a time when they, too, will be outdated. The High Mobility device is update-able, and either the company, or automaker, can push updates themselves, but of course High Mobility will one day be outdated as well. Until then, this little device, a simple PCM that started as several stacked Ardunios, is about the best way to add mobile payments and smartphone integration to an automobile.