I'm not convinced that 2014 will be remembered as the year of the smartwatch, but instead it'll be the year when the smartwatch started to become a truly useful utility. Instead, I believe we've a better chance of 2015 or 2016 being the year of the smartwatch because as more and more people start to use the wrist-mounted wearable device, so more manufacturers and developers will bring useful applications and services to the market. And it's with this in mind that I'm going to write about Hyundai introducing the Next Generation Blue Link System this year, with the 2016 Elantra GT and Veloster models. Inside the next few months, Hyundai owners will be able to connect their Android Wear smartwatch to connect to their car via the Blue Link smartwatch app, which was developed in partnership with Station Digital Media. Hyundai are to showcase the new capabilities at the Consumer Electronic Show, CES, next week. Barry Ratzlaff, Hyundai Motor America's executive director, said this on the matter: "Connecting to your car through a smartwatch and voice recognition was previously something seen only in science fiction movies. Now, we can provide this capability to owners of Hyundai vehicles equipped with Blue Link."
The application has been designed to be easy to use. The owner taps an icon, or uses his or her voice, to execute remote commands and functions. These include remote starting, locking or unlocking, as well as an easy ability to find their car in a busy parking lot by flashing the lights or honking the horn. Hyundai will be demonstrating the application on Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola devices and it's a free download from the Google Play Store. The Blue Link smartwatch app will work with older cars too, starting from the 2012 Sonata and expanding across Hyundai's 2013 range. I can see the potential for mischief with the application too, especially if ones' significant other has a wicked sense of humor!
Whilst the Hyundai Blue Link function is neat, and I'm especially encouraged to see that it won't just cover new models but is also backwards looking, the news is arguably more important because it highlights that the auto manufacturers are increasingly accepting that third party solutions need to be officially integrated into their cars. It took many years before Bluetooth connectivity kits were relatively commonplace and their abilities are quickly being expanded upon. Android Auto, plus Apple's competitor products, is right around the corner. I don't believe all manufacturers will accept the change in technological tempo but consumer demand will ultimately push the manufacturers to build in support. Certainly, if I were in a position to be picking a new car and if one manufacturer supported Android Wear but another didn't, it would sway my decision, everything else being equal.