A subtle change has been happening in global tech exhibitions for a few years now: the wide (and still growing) variety in the vendors and brand names that make it to the show floor don’t exactly match the exhibition name and original purpose. A look at the Mobile World Congress’ list of exhibitors for 2017 would elicit some head scratches from casual observers—and, more particularly, a specific question: “What are they doing here?”
Then again, this shouldn’t be considered strange, especially by those keeping watch on major exhibitions. Everything’s connected now; and if it’s not the case yet (you’ll get the pun in a while) for some aspects, it will be soon. The fact that four car marques, including Mercedes-Benz, went to MWC this year with their respective mobile initiatives and concept tech should be seen as proof of that connected-ness.
For this Daimler subsidiary, MWC afforded it the opportunity to show off their new stuff, in line with what it calls CASE: Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service, and Electric Drive. Fasten your seat belts.
Connect all the things!
For connectivity, the car brand went for COMAND Online, which it showcased through its latest E-Class Coupé during the event. What it does is it helps Mercedes-Benz owners get important information regarding current traffic conditions and the best alternate routes and requisite arrival times, as well as allow the car to communicate with your other connected devices.
But Daimler AG’s work toward connectivity goes beyond what’s going to be in their cars in the future. The apps that also belong to the Daimler family—public transit app moovel, European taxi hailing app mytaxi, and car sharing app car2go—were also showcased at MWC. These three apps provide convenience for both customers and service operators, and have seen millions of downloads in their respective consumer markets.
Mercedes-Benz also featured its Mercedes me app, which enables car owners to use their smartphones as car door openers, or check vital car info such as the amount of fuel remaining in the tank.
So these two Daimler services made us want equivalents for the Philippine market, stat. Right now, when people shop online, they either need to pay more for shipping, pick their packages up at their nearest PHLPost office, or use third-party overseas shipping and local delivery services to avoid all the hassles. The “smart ready to drop” service, which Daimler began testing last year in Stuttgart, Germany, makes your car trunk the drop-off point for your purchases, and you can go do your thing while it all goes down, no waiting required.
For this to work, you’ll need to install a Connectivity Box to put into your smart fortwo or fourfour car. Then you have to download and install a special app that generates a transaction number (TAN) that you place in your delivery address’ care-of field. The partner delivery service would then use the same app to tell them where your car is, and then they can temporarily open your trunk with your provided TAN within a limited time frame so they can drop off your package. Once they close the trunk, the transaction’s over and they won’t be able to open it again. You then get a notification signifying successful delivery. This is much, much better than waiting at home to accept the delivery yourself, right?
As for “smart ready to share”, it requires a strong level of trust between you, your family members and other people in your life. For example, if you’re not using your car today, they can—as long as you’ve pre-approved them, of course. Like the “smart ready to drop” service, this requires the Connectivity Box and a special app. And according to a prior press release, you’ll be paid for sharing your ride: “smart drivers can share their vehicle with a defined community and earn money at the same time.” Not bad—as long as they take really good care of your car, or don’t use it to moonlight for car-hailing services! This has yet to go through testing though, so we’ll just wait and see if this works and gets a good reception.
Electric dream to electric (virtual) reality
The marque also used virtual reality to show off to its guests their vision of the electric vehicle, the Concept EQ. Using VR sets, interested parties can check out the concept car’s various design and its connectivity options, and choose and customize their Mercedes-Benz vehicle before purchase. So if you want another paint job, or a different look for your car’s interiors, you can visualize what it’ll look like beforehand.