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BMW keeps watch on i3

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
Contributed A Samsung smart watch displays information about the BMW i3 it is connected to.
Contributed The BMW i3

It is a given that a watch keeps track of time. Over time, this basic functionality has been expanded by various manufacturers to include features as varied as determining air temperature and the wearer's pulse rate.

And now, German auto-maker BMW has incorporated the watch into its system for voice command of the i3 electric car.

It is yet another way in which major automakers are pushing towards driverless (or self-driving) vehicles to transport persons from place to place more safely than with a human behind the steering wheel. The timepiece, a Samsung smart watch, is the conduit through which the car owner controls the i3. The app on the watch also shows the car's status.

The person wearing the watch linked to a particular i3 simply needs to speak into it and the vehicle responds to the command. When the system was unveiled at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January, the person doing the demonstration instructed the vehicle to come out of the garage and pick him up outside - and it did.

Utilising its ultrasonic sensors nestled at the i3's front, the car stopped in front of the person controlling it.

To carry out instructions, the BMW i3 needs a map of the particular area. Then, the car's algorithm can sift through the map and information coming through the sensors enable it to find a parking spot.

BMW is not the only automaker intent on incorporating this technology. Audi says the Q7 will be the first car on Earth that will continue to expand its knowledge of terrain as it will be permanently connected to a cloud service that gives updated information to the vehicle.

An LG smart watch will be used to control the Audi Q7.