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Directed Expands SmartStart iPhone Module

Car electronics continues to link more closely to the iPhone with new apps and hardware.

Directed is expanding its Viper SmartStart app and module to more dealers beyond Best Buy and a new Car Finder app is now available from Intridea.

Directed Electronics will extend its $299 Viper SmartStart app/module to the Clifford and Python brands and offer the products through car A/V retailers. Currently, the Viper SmartStart module is sold exclusively at Best Buy where it was launched on Oct. 13.

Directed Electronics president Keith Duffy said, “This is just the beginning.” Directed will add features to its app, including push notification of events such as a security break in, or when a car fails to start via remote start, making the app a true two-way system, it said. Directed is also working on extending the app and module to other smartphone platforms beyond the iPhone.

The Viper SmartStart solution can remote start a car from the iPhone instead of a key fob transmitter when used with a $299 module and a free iPhone app. The module communicates with the iPhone to remote start the car. It also requires the user own an existing remote start or he may buy a full module/remote start/door lock/unlock package at $499.

Another iPhone app for the car is a “car finder” from Intridea that uses a new technology called “augmented reality.” Augmented reality takes the live camera view on the iPhone and overlays information on it, so if a user points his iPhone at a crowded parking lot, he sees a view of the lot overlaid with arrows indicating where his car is parked, as in Intridea’s Car Finder app.

Intridea mobile solutions director Brendan Lim said, “The fact that we can overlay things onto what we’re viewing is going to change in a really big way, how consumer interact with smartphones. For instance, possibly in the camera view, you can look around and see detailed information on the people in front of you. You might be able to see their Twitter or Facebook status, just by putting your phone in front of you.”

In portable navigation devices, augmented reality can help display traffic updates in a way that “that is more visual to the user,” he added. Google’s “street view” application is essentially augmented reality, he said.

An ABI Research study on augmented reality states that revenue from augmented reality apps on smartphones will grow from about $6 million in 2008 to more than $350 million in 2014, as advertisers learn to include “tags” into GPS displays.