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Others recognize Continental Flexible Smartphone Docking Station’s potential

Sections: Infotainment

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Elio Motors Continental Engineering Services Smartphone Docking Station

A prototype of the smartphone docking station planned for Elio Motors’ three-wheeled, $6,800 car is displayed. Continental — yes THAT Continental — is supplying the docking station as well as engineering for the car’s electrical/electronic systems, according to an Elio press release. (Photo courtesy Elio Motors/Facebook)

Some time ago, we told you about Continental supplying the electrical engineering for the Elio Motors three-wheeled commuter machine. As part of the deal, we also told you the Elio would get Continental’s Flexible Smartphone Docking Station. Now it seems others are talking about the broad possibilities such “BYOP” — Bring Your Own Phone — infotainment solutions might hold for the rest of us.

Ronnie Schreiber at The Truth About Cars posted a few days ago about the Continental Flexible Smartphone Docking Station:

It’s a clever and seemingly cost-effective way of providing what we now call infotainment without having to spend lots of money developing software that will be obsolete while the original owners are still driving their cars.

That’s it exactly. I have little interest in buying an expensive, cutting-edge infotainment system that experience tells me will likely be out-of-date before I’ve made the last payment on the car that houses it. I’d wager, just as Schreiber does, that the majority of car shoppers would feel the same way if asked.

As I pointed out when discussing a similarly simple BYOP infotainment setup in the Datsun GO! destined for developing markets in Southern Asia a few weeks ago, this seems to me like a somewhat rare instance of the developing world leading the developed world. Practicality carries a lot more currency with people of limited means, for whom a car is a life-altering investment. Development of smartphone and music player devices moves a lot faster than does development of whole cars and their fully integrated infotainment systems — a point Schreiber brought out in his piece. That’s why the Flexible Smartphone Docking Station makes so much sense.

So apparently both we and TTAC have interest in knowing when we might see dock-based, BYOP infotainment systems in American cars (other than the Elio, which is tentatively scheduled to go on sale in 2015). With Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink destined to bringsmartphone OS interfaces to cars’ built-in touchscreens as it is, we figure why not just outsource touchscreen duties to the smartphone? That would seem infinitely simpler, and would let the driver swap infotainment experiences as often as he or she swapped smartphones. Win-win.

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