Qatar’s largest telecom firm has said some of its customers can now use their smart phones to activate their cars’ air conditioning, cooling off vehicles before motorists leave their home or office.
Ooredoo said in a statement that an application created by UK-based firm Q3Smart, which has a presence in Qatar, lets users adjust the climate controls of their vehicles regardless of their location.
The company added that it is marketing the technology as a way of allowing customers to return to a cool vehicle while conserving resources.
In Qatar, with its extreme summer temperatures, some motorists leave their engines on while they run short – or long – errands to keep their vehicle cabins cool.
Similar technology, developed by manufacturers such as BMW as well as other technology companies, has been on the market for more than a year. However, this appears to be the first time a company in Qatar has endorsed the service.
Ooredoo said working directly with a telecom operator offers protection against hacking, a concern raised by some security analysts when other versions of the technology first hit the market.
In 2011, a video was uploaded to YouTube showing an individual hacking into another firm’s system and starting a vehicle by entering a couple lines of code in a web browser – a flaw that its app developer, Viper SmartStart, said has since been fixed.
Who can use it
An Ooredoo spokesperson said the app, Q3Smart Smart Start, would work with any phone running an Android, iOS or Windows operating system and is currently compatible with 95 percent of modern Japanese, American and – soon – German vehicles.
While vehicles should preferably should have push-button starters, the technology can be implemented with key-start systems.
The app is free, and the cost of the first year’s subscription is included when you purchase the device. On its website, Q3Smart said its vehicle smartphone package retails for $512.
Individuals interested in the service are being directed to visit Q3Smart’s website, while businesses in Qatar can contact their Ooredoo Account Manager.
Meanwhile, the company said it is also currently working with firms in other sectors – including the automotive, hospitality and manufacturing industries – to expand its use of machine-to-machine technology, a broad term used to describe the increasing number of wired and wireless systems that are able to communicate with one another.
For example, Ooredoo recently opened a demonstration villa on the Pearl where all the household appliances – including security locks, air conditioners, lighting and entertainment systems – can be connected to a single user interface, such as an app.
Meanwhile, other businesses in Qatar are also introducing new ways for customers to use their mobile phones.
Late last year, the W Doha Hotel said it would start giving guests the option of using their smartphone as a room key.
Customers who sign up for the service receive a Bluetooth key ahead of their arrival, allowing them to bypass the check-in process and enter their room by holding their phone against the lock.