Ever thought of dumping the mortgage and living in the car? Well, it could soon be a more attractive proposition if the LTE Connected Car Concept is anything to go by. The prototype vehicle brings together ideas and technology from a range of companies to boast first-of-its-kind services and functionality including on-demand entertainment, infotainment, diagnostics, navigation and other mobile services made possible by connecting a vehicle to always-on, ultra-fast 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

The car comes out of the ng Connect Program conceived by Alcatel-Lucent, which brought together a number of infrastructure, device, application and content companies, including Atlantic Records, QNX Software Systems, Toyota Motor Sales, GameStreamer, chumby and Kabillion, and asked the question, “What happens if you connect a car to a high-speed network?” The result was a car based on the 2010 Toyota Prius that ng Connect calls a sophisticated, next-generation “smart” device on wheels.

The LTE Connected Car concept offers independently operated touchscreens that allow access to a menu of entertainment, infotainment, security and driving-related services including:

  • Video on demand (VOD) – previously recorded video content such as TV programs and movies can be streamed to the vehicle and new content can be rented or purchased in-car for immediate playback or pausing and finishing at home.
  • Gaming – multi-player games can be played against other passengers within the car, players in other cars or players anywhere in the world via the Internet.
  • Audio Library – as with video content, an endless audio catalog is accessible from the cloud.
  • Home Control – the car can connect to home automation and security systems to manage climate control systems and lighting or monitor home or business IP security cameras with streaming video feeds.
  • Wi-Fi hotspot – an in-car Wi-Fi network allows mobile devices to take advantage of the car’s high-speed connection.
  • Advanced Navigation – provides real-time GPS updates with point-of-interest overlay and integrated location-based services as well as real-time traffic, weather and road condition alerts.
  • Road and vehicle monitoring – as well as monitoring the car’s maintenance scheduling, security and theft protection the vehicle also acts as a sensor to collect information about the vehicle’s status, location and road conditions that can be shared with other drivers.

“With the introduction of the LTE Connected Car concept, the automobile is poised to become the latest mobile platform,” said Derek Kuhn, Vice President for Emerging Technology and Media, Alcatel-Lucent, an ng Connect founding member. “Information, entertainment content and essential data such as traffic updates and the location of preferred retail outlets or service centers can be easily accessed through the use of high bandwidth connectivity, cloud-based interactive applications and the next generation of innovative in-car computing platforms.”

The ng Connect program participants say the LTE Connected Car concept also represents a new potential revenue opportunity for network operators, automotive suppliers and application providers who can create new services that make use of information such as subscriber location, preferences and other relevant information. However, the companies stress that such information is made available in a safe and secure way that protects the privacy of individual subscribers.

The LTE Connected Car concept was displayed in the "Experience Canada" pavilion at the International Media Center for the G-8 and G-20 Summits.