What's a car company doing at Mobile World Congress? Turning its existing big metal boxes into rolling wi-fi routers, of course.
Today Ford has announced that it has partnered with Vodafone to build 4G connectivity directly into its cars - no Bluetooth connection to your phone required. The "FordPass Connect" built-in modem will enable car owners to use the Ford app on their phones to check in on their car from anywhere they have connectivity. This means monitoring oil levels, battery life, odometer, as well as check the car's location.
Perhaps more importantly, it'll allow car owners to remotely lock and unlock their cars, and switch off that damned car alarm without having to get up.
The modem will also be useful when you step into the car too for some pretty obvious reasons: it'll hook up to live traffic data, to make your journeys faster. It will also turn your car into a more general wi-fi hotspot, so that passengers (and hopefully only passengers) can use its connection to browse the web while on the road. The press release for the announcement refers to the new modem containing an external aerial, which could mean much better connectivity where signal is patchy.
Safety-wise, the new modem will also do natively the same thing that Ford's "SYNC" connectivity system has been doing for a while via Bluetooth. If you get into an accident, it'll automatically call the emergency services and tell them that shit has gone down.
Unfortunately, Ford has yet to announce exactly which cars will come with the new modem built in, whether it will cost extra, or anything like that. And if you do want to take advantage of it, you'll also need a data contract for your phone. But we'll let you know when we know.
Full Disclosure: Ford organised our travel and accommodation for MWC.
Written over 4G thanks to Vodafone.
Giz UK is on the floor at MWC in Barcelona! We're going to have plenty of coverage coming in over the next few days, and you can catch up on it all here.