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New iPhone App From Viper Remote Starts Vehicle

Directed Electronics launched one of the first apps that will remotely start a car using an iPhone instead of a key-fob transmitter.

The Viper SmartStart app requires a $299 module that went on sale at Best Buy stores this month and will be available at other retailers in the fourth quarter. The app also requires a Viper remote starter, and Best Buy is offering a $499 package that includes the SmartStart module and a remote starter with door lock/unlock.

The app, free on Apple’s App Store, gives the remote starter virtually unlimited range, so users can remote start the car from miles away. The iPhone then communicates with the wireless SmartStart module, which tells the car to start. The app can also lock and unlock doors, arm and disarm a security system, pop the trunk and act as a panic button or car finder, said Directed Electronics president, Kevin Duffy.

Remote start supplier Audiovox said it is not planning a remote start app at this time. “We’ve done something like that on a cellphone with CarLink. We found it not to be a strong seller … the consumer doesn’t necessarily want to get their phone out to get through the process,” said Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone.

Directed said Best Buy will support its SmartStart app system with advertising and the product will be displayed on an end cap at Best Buy stores.

Duffy added, “For our retailers, it gives them something to bring excitement to the remote-start category. It gives them something exciting and new to talk about.”

Directed said it worked on the app for the past six months, doing much of the development itself, although it partnered with app developers as well. iPhone apps “definitely open up a brand new opportunity for us. We see a lot of opportunities for smartphone integration. This is version one, and we see more coming,” Duffy said.

The app can also work with an iPod Touch over Wi-Fi.