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First Coast Gears: Smartphone car tech reaches economy cars

6:35 AM, May 26, 2012   |    comments
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Here at First Coast Gears, we love gadgets. Smartphone apps for cars have been around a while now, but when sophisticated apps reach cars in the sub-$25,000 range, you know they're about to go mainstream.

A case in point is Hyundai's Bluelink. It's available in the Sonata and Veloster, which both base under $20,000.

The Blue Link app, available for Android and iPhone, allows users to control a series of functions remotely via smartphone. For example, if you get that sinking feeling you forgot to lock your door, no problem -- just fire up the app. If you look up a location on your phone that you want to check out later in the evening, you can beam it to the car's navigation system in advance.

You can start the car from your phone to cool it down in advance or access vehicle diagnostics. Other brands also have apps these days. Two of the most useful are for the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt and all-electric Nissan Leaf. Those apps allow users to program charging times from their phone in addition to offering similar functions to Hyundai's app.

In the old 1980s Knight Rider TV show, Michael Knight talked to his Trans Am on his wristwatch and the car talked back, answering his every command. Between apps, in-car navigation and retractable hardtops, our cars are quickly catching up to Michael's car, which was named KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand).

KITT could also drive for Michael but I'm not sure I'm looking forward to that one ever becoming a reality.

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