A British mobile giant has teamed up with BMW to provide automated emergency calls during an accident. The move is designed to comply with an upcoming EU initiative.
On Monday, the day before the official opening of the CeBIT consumer technology show in Hannover, Vodafone announced a new type of SIM card. The company says this provides an encryption to allow users to make secure phone calls and text messages to other Vodafone users with another secure SIM.
Currently, there are few consumer-grade end-to-end encryption tools available for smartphones. This product will likely be targeting professionals who want to keep their communications secret, but it will no doubt be used by tech activists as well.
Meanwhile, the British mobile telecom giant also announced a partnership with German automaker BMW. That deal will allow for Vodafone users with secure SIMs to communicate via voice commands in new German-made BMWs, and would automatically dial the emergency services in the event of an accident. This feature is designed to comply with the European Union's new eCall initiative to require such features in all new cars by 2015.
"There will be no Google or Vodafone cars," said Gerlach Paus, a spokesman for Vodafone, in an interview with DW. "There will be just be BMWs that can completely integrate new services over broadband ."
Industry analysts expect the value of this "machine-to-machine communication" in the automotive sector to reach 9 billion euros by the end of the year.
But, it's not just car companies partnering with the tech world. At IBM, for example, researchers have developed a new battery technology that extends the range of electric cars by a factor of five, to about 800 kilometers.
Author: Rolf Wenkel / cjf
Editor: Joanna Impey