BMW Connected+ Uses Driver Data to Improve Driver Services

BMW can do a lot with driver data—assuming owners are comfortable sharing it.

BMW

New cars are data-harvesting machines, and BMW believes it can put that data to work to help its customers.

The German automaker wants to use data to create digital profiles of individual owners that will help provide personalized services. It took a major step toward that goal at its Innovation Days 2017 event by unveiling BMW Connected+, a new feature based around pulling data from drivers' smartphones.

BMW claims that coupling that data with a car's infotainment system can help make everyday tasks more efficient. In a press release, the automaker said BMW Connected+ can help customers make their workdays more productive. Emphasizing how a car can help you with mundane tasks seems depressingly far from BMW's "Ultimate Driving Machine" moniker, but it might be a good way to entice tech-obsessed car shoppers.

BMW Connected+ not only allows users to send directions from a smartphone to a car's nav system, it also calculates whether the car has enough fuel to make it to the destination. If not, the system will find a gas station and add it to the route. The system also incorporates "door-to-door" navigation using a driver's smartphone to display instructions on how to complete the journey on foot or by another means of transportation once the car is parked.

If friends, family, or an impatient boss want to know the driver's ETA, BMW Connected+ lets the car automatically send that information via text message. It also tells the driver when to leave in order to arrive at his or her next appointment on time.

These features could make life more convenient for BMW owners—but those owners will have to be comfortable with BMW accessing that data in the first place. While the technology to harvest massive amounts of data from cars already exists, questions of privacy and network security must first be addressed.