Honda Connect: A Real-time Car Assistant Is A Game-Changer

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Honda recently launched its first-of-a-kind connected car platform called ‘Honda Connect’ on December 2015, eventually presenting it in Bangalore through a test drive. A team from Dazeinfo attended the event and reviewed some interesting features about the app/platform. The automotive technology scenario has evolved significantly, Honda has learnt its prominence and has stepped up to introduce a game-changing feature in the Indian Automotive Market where technology is given a pass in exchange for operability and absolute functionality. Therefore, Honda releasing the information platform is a strong move, which is also rewarding to the consumers—especially for the tech savvy ones.

The concept of connected cars is one which goes back to the time when the definition was a car, being equipped with internet access or a WLAN, allowing internet sharing with other utilities as well. Technologies like Honda Connect utilizes the internet or wireless LAN to provide additional information to the driver like automatic notification in case of a crash, speeding, and various safety and service-related alerts. The ‘Honda Connect’ is an advanced information platform that enables a car owner to receive information and data regarding the vehicle at all times. There are over twenty features encompassing safety, security, and convenience for both the car and the driver–a comparatively new aspect.

At the event, headed by Mr Katsushi Inoue, President and CEO of Honda Cars India, the discussion was on the various features of the Honda Connect succeeded by a small briefing of Do’s and Don’ts for the test drive. With an hour of driving into the roads, the Honda Connect app has already recorded our real-time location information, stops we made, and it even pushed notification to the app when the driver exceeded the RPM limit or hit the brakes too hard. An interesting feature in the Honda Connect app is that it displayed the total distance travelled in the whole journey, engine condition, safety status, and how many times we exceeded the 100kph mark. The application was packed with an essential set of features, which really made us wonder why this tech still had not landed in the Indian market.

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But the Upon the “accidental” removal of the battery connectors in the car (i.e. during the event of a crash), the Connect app would automatically send the information to Customer Care where you can expect to receive a call within the span of five minutes. This feature is called ‘Impact Alert’ and it enables Honda customers to receive swift help including towing services in case the car breaks down.

Another important feature is locate-my-car, which would help in pinpointing the exact location and navigation of the car at a simple click. A very useful feature for Indian roads where parking spaces are cramped; the feature could come in handy when you park your car at an unknown area. Furthermore, with the Honda Connect app, one can monitor vehicular health at all times, perform trip analysis, nearest Honda dealerships, fuel log book, document wallet for all car related documents, and a manual SOS allows for sharing the location to listed contacts in the event of an emergency.

Honda Connect-2
The application pushes important alert notifications, keeps track of your trip, etc.

Overall, we were impressed with the app. But there were some questions that cropped up in our minds—like for example, privacy. Storing and providing customer and vehicular data, and that too in real time location along with the Vehicular Identification Number (VIN) seemed a bit quirky. While talking to Honda, however, claims vigorous testing results along with a secure and encrypted cloud storage, accessible only to Honda.

“We have been testing the application vigorously, keeping in mind about the privacy and security concerns that our users could raise. We have custom-built the cloud server, and a tech-support team monitors and maintains the mainframe to look for any loop-holes that hackers could use to steal user data,” says Mr. Katsushi Inoue, President and CEO of Honda Cars India

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Regulatory analysis has shown that technology and connected cars have steadily increased over the past few years. On January 2014, Google announced the launch of Open Automotive Alliance (OAA)—a global alliance including technology and industry leaders committed to bringing the android platform to the car industry. The members include Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai, and NVidia.

Apple also launched the new CarPlay system, which enabled drivers to connect their iPhones to their infotainment systems via a Lightning connector. The concept of connected cars is increasingly being advantageous with the rise of smartphones. However, one of the major barriers could be the reluctance of general customers who could opt-out the feature for extra costs associated with embedded connectivity in their cars. However, this stagnancy is likely to remain for a few years, as carmakers are vying for smartphone integration to fulfil customers demand for connectivity. In addition, Honda while talking to Dazeinfo promised more innovative integrations in the future. For now, a Honda customer can avail the information service along with a tracking device for Rs 2,999.

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