Image: AT&T

The Harman Spark connected-car device is being offered to drivers in the US to enable location-based services, a 4G LTE wifi hotspot for up to eight devices, remote diagnostics, emergency crash assistance, in-app payments, geofencing, remote monitoring of the vehicle, parking reservations and more. It is marketed via telecomms provider AT&T at $79.99 with service plans from $5 a month (without wifi) and is compatible with most vehicles from 1996 onward.

The Spark, developed in partnership with automotive software firm Tantalum, is plugged like a USB into the car’s on-board diagnostics port (OBD II) usually found beneath the steering wheel. It is operated via a smartphone app downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play and new features are automatically updated.

Sanjay Dhawan, Harman CTO and president, Harman Connected Services, said in a statement: “Consumers today are looking for simple devices that make their lives efficient and seamless. Harman Spark allows them to easily and affordably transform older vehicles into smart cars of the future with connected applications.”

Chris Penrose, president of IoT solutions, AT&T, added: “With Harman Spark, just about any car can be transformed into an LTE connected car. You get the most advanced connected services available on new cars plus some that you can’t get anywhere else.”

AT&T has recently announced a further new wireless service: 4G LTE for the famous Airstream Silver Bullet caravan (travel trailer) for fully-connected camping. Airstream Classic models from the 2019 model-year can now have a wifi hotspot plus mobile app to monitor control temperature, lighting, water levels, propane tanks, awnings and more functions, with AT&T offering various data plans.

-Farah Alkhalisi