updated 09:49 am EST, Wed January 29, 2014
Could be used for mobile payments for gas, parking
Automatic's Link "smart driving assistant" has been issued a software update allowing it to operate as an iBeacon, reports say. The Link is normally just meant to help optimize a car's performance. With the update, though, the device should be able to both transmit and receive data from compatible devices within Bluetooth range, such as iPhones and iPads.
While there are no specific plans yet, Automatic's co-founder, Thejo Kote, explains that iBeacon support could open up a new range of functions. Some suggestions including making it easier to pay for things like parking or gas. Future apps could be enabled through later software updates.
Apple is believed to be building up a mobile payment infrastructure, in which iBeacon may be playing a central part. To date, though, iBeacon has only been used by retailers (Apple included) to inform shoppers about products in their stores and any ongoing discounts, rather than actually aid in transactions. Most current mobile payment systems rely on NFC, something prevalent in Android phones, but missing from the iPhone. iBeacon is based on Bluetooth 4.0 -- a more universal technology -- but intended exclusively for use with Apple devices.