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Audi A8 Gets Factory Integrated Mobile Hotspot 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the drive-and-surf dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Audi's A8 luxury sedan will be the first vehicle with a factory integrated mobile hotspot when it ships this fall with an adapter capable of connecting up to eight devices via WiFi or Bluetooth. Audi integrates a WLAN module and antenna on the roof, using technology from chip-maker Marvell and Harman Automotive. The company says its WiFi software architecture is optimized for extremely low power consumption on battery-powered consumer electronics, enabling passengers to connect to the vehicle's network without affecting the battery life of their connected devices. The Audi system, called the Marvell Mobile Hotspot, will support any combination of smartphones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, and gaming devices."
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Audi A8 Gets Factory Integrated Mobile Hotspot

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  • Still paying exorbitant data rates for cellular to actually access the Internet. I mean, it seems like the only real use would be to combine a bush party with a lan party, since I'm fairly sure that most of the people who would want mobile access on their laptop already have either a cellular stick for the laptop, or have already tethered their laptop to their cell phone....

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Vectormatic (1759674)

      People with an Audi A8 are most likely to be driven around by a driver, while sitting in the back with their laptop

      And having in-car wifi just is a bit more stylish then having that usb dongle hanging out of your laptop.

      Not to mention the fact that the kids nintendo DS wont work with a 3G dongle, but will connect to the in-car wifi

      • Re:Tethering (Score:5, Insightful)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:28AM (#33227342) Homepage

        People with an Audi A8 are most likely to be driven around by a driver, while sitting in the back with their laptop

        It's a very expensive car, but not necessarily I-can-afford-a-chauffeur-expensive.

      • Re:Tethering (Score:4, Informative)

        by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:10AM (#33227718)

        People with an Audi A8 are most likely to be driven around by a driver, while sitting in the back with their laptop

        No they aren't. It's a $76,000 (base price) car. I drive a $77,000 (base price; $95,000 as built) car, bought as second owner for $35,000, and I sure as hell couldn't afford someone to drive me around. http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2004/03/22/185936.html [theautochannel.com]

        For a car with a driver, you should be looking at the Rolls Royce Phantom or similar. Those start around $380,000.

        • by bmckeever (224043)

          Of course you don't have a driver - you bought a $35,000 car.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mzs (595629)

          The fact of the matter is that you bought a car for $35K and cannot afford to be chauffeured around in it. In Europe big Audis like these are in fact commonly used to chauffeur around politicians. The people in the back are not the ones paying for the cars and in many European countries you might want to tack on 40-80% to the US price for a car "The 2011 Audi A8 L prices tarts at 79,000 Euro" 79,000 Euro is about $102K. You are not getting the same options and engine though for those prices. The price discr

        • You bought a Bangle turd? x_x I'm sorry but that's one fugly car. It's true that you aren't looking at the car while you're driving it, but no "sports-luxury" barge can offer the kind of performance OR luxury to make up for that kind of ugly IMO.

      • by Orga (1720130)
        My phone has this feature for free (rooted Droid X) I imagine everyones phone will provide this feature in a couple of years. This is just another tool for car buyers to waste their money on cheap features manufacturers can tack onto the car. (GPS comes to mind)
      • by blair1q (305137)

        People with an Audi A8 are likely to be carrying a phone that can act as a hotspot.

        Giving the functionality a 20,000% markup as a feature in a car is cute, but if it sells three additional vehicles I'll be surprised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alarash (746254)
      If you own an A8, I don't think the "exorbitant data rates" for cellular access to Internet is a problem for you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        That really depends on how you choose to spend your money though, right? My car has about the same base price as an A8, and I got it by saving money, such as by using a pre-paid phone (average cost $8 per month) instead of $120 a month or whatever that a lot of folks blindly shell out.

        It really depends on priorities. I spend a lot of time in my bed, in my home office chair, and in my car, so I'm going to spend money to enjoy those places. I don't spend that much time wandering around looking for internet

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Buelldozer (713671)

        If you go to an online auto site, like autotrader.com, you'll find that a used 2005 Audi A8 Quattro can be had in the 28,000 to 30,000 dollar range. I see used '08s right now in the 45,000 to 50,000 dollar range.

        Just because someone is driving a German luxury sedan doesn't necessarily mean that they have money falling out of their pockets. Audi's are surprisingly inexpensive used.

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          Yeah, but 90% of them still drive like douchebags, new or not.

          • I'm an Audi driver and I take exception to this. For 'douchebag' the drivers of SUVs and 3/4 ton pickup trucks have everyone beat.

            I see far too many of people with heavy vehicles driving by the laws of gross tonnage. I alternate between my A4 and a Silverado 2500HD and I witness first hand the difference in treatment between me in my Audi and me in my ginormous pickup.

            I get treated with far greater respect in the gas hog. People don't cut off me in traffic, people don't always presume they have the right of

            • by PitaBred (632671)

              My brother owns an Audi, and he doesn't drive like a douche ;)

              It may just be Colorado. But when I see an Audi, I'm MUCH more likely to get cut off by them than by most any other make of vehicle. Don't get me wrong, there are assholes all over the place, but I would make a lot of money placing bets on being cut off or other asshole driving being done by Audi owners. The SUVs and trucks here, they only reliably cut you off if they're jacked up and have big tires, the aftermarket penis extension stuff.

            • It's not about weight or even size really, it's the intimidation factor. My under-2100lb 4x4 gets respect on the road. Probably because it's tall, it has big toothy tires, makes a mean noise and has plenty of exposed steel on both ends.

              My little Japanese 2-door coupe on the other hand, is about on par with a motorcycle in terms of road respect. It could have something to do with the low height, quiet running at low revs, and abundance of soft plastic bodywork.

            • by tompaulco (629533)
              I get treated with far greater respect in the gas hog. People don't cut off me in traffic, people don't always presume they have the right of way at four way stops, etc.
              I wonder why they respect you in a Silverado, but they don't respect 18 wheelers or 20,000 pound RVs, and will still happily cu them off in traffic, and occasionally wind up squished for their trouble.
          • by Teun (17872)
            I regularly drive a Porsche in Germany, say 15-20 years ago it would be the BMW's that were tailgating, the last 10 years or so it's the Audi's.

            I mean their drivers :)

            But the A8 is not one of them, probably too much class for that sort of thing.
            But because Audi's are generally restricted to 250 km/h. the tailgating only lasts till the road ahead is free again.

        • by StikyPad (445176)

          Audi's are surprisingly inexpensive used.

          Which is a nice way of saying their resale value sucks.

          • True, but that's not what we were discussing. A false assumption is being made by many people that all Audi's are very expensive and their average drive wouldn't care about cost.

            I'm just dispelling this wrong assumption.

            • by StikyPad (445176)

              True, but this feature isn't available in used vehicles, so the relevance of my post is irrelevant. ;)

      • by Patik (584959)

        It's still a good thing because car features tend to work their way down from luxury vehicles to "average joe" vehicles over time. Remember when only luxury cars had power windows or remote controls for (un)locking? Now those are a given in all but the most basic models. Sure, it'll take years, but at least it's beginning.

        Eventually another manufacturer will want to make their semi-luxury car look like an Audi A8 and they'll add wifi. Then a slightly cheaper car than that will want to appear to be a good va

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by petermgreen (876956)

      Still paying exorbitant data rates for cellular to actually access the Internet.
      I dunno what it's like in the US but here you can get some "mobile broadband" plans that are farily reasonable as long as you stay within your allowance (the overage rates are indeed exorbitant).

      since I'm fairly sure that most of the people who would want mobile access on their laptop already have either a cellular stick for the laptop, or have already tethered their laptop to their cell phone....
      I see several advantages to havi

      • by DinDaddy (1168147)

        Cars are nearly always operated upright.

        Nearly?

        • Well steep hills and racetrack banking would put the car some way from the horizontal so you would have something of a compromise between gain when the car is on the flat and not losing too much gain when the car goes up a hill.

          Still I'd expect an antenna on a car roof to be far far better at holding a cellular signal than the one inside a phone or mobile broadband stick which is in turn inside a car.

        • Cars are nearly always operated upright.

          Nearly?

          Yes, but when it isn't, would you like your network to die just when your closest relatives did the same? I mean: how would you tweet and facebook that?

  • Wardriving (Score:5, Funny)

    by Netshroud (1856624) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:02AM (#33226708)
    You're doing it wrong.
  • Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maroberts (15852) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:04AM (#33226722) Homepage Journal

    Have USB outlets in the car, into which you can plug in your devices, making them free from interception/hacking, giving power to the devices and thus saving on the battery power of the device and (tongue in cheek)not broadcasting harmful radio waves which can make your head explode(/tongue in cheek)?

    • Re:Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vectormatic (1759674) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:34AM (#33226902)

      *five years into the future*

      CxO#1: damn, i wish audi would get their shit together and write a driver for my A8, so i can use it with my windows 8 laptop...
      CxO#2: oh, you went with the USB option? My A8 has the wifi hotspot, my kids love playing with their DS through nintendo-online on long trips you know? and my laptop also works flawlessly.

      • by maroberts (15852)

        Drivers are hardly necessary; connections for tethering and storage over usb are fairly standard and thus unlikely to change.

        WiFi has exactly the same issues as USB in this matter, without the charging ability

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027)

          connections for tethering and storage over usb are fairly standard

          But there are still a lot of devices that support Wi-Fi but not tethering, such as the Nintendo DS family.

    • Because that would make too much sense. That's why not.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I was thinking more along the lines of CAT5 sockets. Maybe even some power outlets. So much stuff lately is moving towards wireless. But really the best way is with wires. Wouldn't it be nice if your entire home was wired up with fibre optics. Wouldn't add much to the cost of the house, since most of the cost of the house is land, and has nothing to do with actual building costs. Same goes for a car. Just have retractable Ethernet cables in the doors. Plug right into your laptop. Sure wireless is n
      • by oodaloop (1229816)
        Why would you want ethernet over USB, when USB would both power and provide access? How would I plug in an iPhone for instance?
      • by Gulthek (12570)

        Nothing beats it for what? I'll grant you security if you're absolutely worried that an unmarked van is going to be tailing you for miles and hacking into the car's wifi network. But speed? Unless the car is wired your bottleneck is going to be the car's connection to the Internet.

        Although your idea would allow LAN parties in the car. Fun!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by localman57 (1340533)

          Nothing beats it for what? I'll grant you security if you're absolutely worried that an unmarked van is going to be tailing you for miles

          This doesn't happen to Audis A8's. Only to BMW 7 series driven by Clive Owen.

    • Subject says it all. WiFi is a much more convenient standard.
  • Connected to what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506)

    Connected to the overly-expensive cellular internet?

    I don't see much use, especially at the prices you pay for that. Allright maybe if you have one subscription and you want to use your mobile AND your laptop at the same time - but at the price you pay for the connection, is it worth it?

    • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:09AM (#33226748) Homepage
      I don't think the kind of people that buy an Audi R8 are going to be all that concerned about cellular costs, which in any event might be negligible depending on their country of residence. Everyone that I know who owns a car comparable to an A8 either has at least one other vehicle for more mundane use like shopping, taking the kids to school etc., or is quite well paid and single.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I don't think the kind of people that buy an Audi R8 .....

        Audi A8 != R8. The R8 is a sports car. The A8 is a large saloon/sedan.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The audi A8 is just a little less expensive than the R8.

          It is anyway a luxury car. And the average A8 customer is going to buy it full optional and loves this kind of toys in his car. That average customer is also not having monetary problems and, as someone stated earlier, often has a driver.

          Also most european governament leaders, big politicians and also many clerical high autorities do ride in audi A8s and have a driver.

          It's definitely a car for people who have money to spare, no less than the R8.

        • You picked up on a typo. The OP knew the article was about the A8, as he stated as much later on in the post.

          That doesn't stop you being correct, though. The R8 is a sports car, the A8 is a luxury saloon. For a mix of the two, look for the S8. All of the sedan, with a little more <JeremyClarkson>POWAAAAAAAAAAAAR!</JeremyClarkson>
      • but in some places 1gb of data costs more then a car with out a plan or roaming so go to Canada and end of with a bill that is more then the car.

    • Audi's A8 luxury sedan

      People buying this car can afford to have a few different internet connections.

    • by gvoima (1868430)
      That heavily depends on the country, here a unlimited transfer speed and data on a almost 90% country wide 3G coverage network, plan is about 18 dollars/month. The funny part is, if you have money to buy a A8, why would you even think about the prices of a network connection? :)
      • by jbb999 (758019)
        Because you spent all your money on an expensive car and have none left to pay for data? :)
        • by gvoima (1868430)
          Haha, so true ;)
        • Well, if you spent all you money on the car, at least it'll be nice to have wifi in there when the bank forecloses on your house :P

          You can park at work, sleep on the backseat, and watch porn through the in-car wifi! it saves on petrol costs too!

      • by houghi (78078)

        And on top of that, most of the time it will be a company car (at least in Belgium) so the company will pay for their cellphone connections anyway.

        And then some will have a driver and will be wanting to have the ability to work in the back on their portable and Iphone/Blackberry just as if they are in the office.

        This is not marketed to people where the kids can do online status updates during the school run. That will be done with moms SUV.

    • by k2r (255754)

      You get about 5GB for about 20 per month. I think that's an okay price for now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Several cellular companies, including (but not limited to) Sprint and T-Mobile, are offering all-you-can-eat wireless data for pretty affordable flat-rate prices these days. After all, they gotta do something to lure customers away from AT&T.

    • Connected to the overly-expensive cellular internet

      If you drive an Audi A8 you have some extra pocketmoney to spare.

      Added to that, I can imagine these cars being leased by coorporate/direction types who can bring it in as a company expense.

      I pay 8euro for 500Mb/month for my 3G connection which gets me by for what I do until I hit a Wifi-hotspot.

      For a "businesspack" with unlimited calling/texting and 500Mb on 3G (+0,0165euro/MB if you go over it) you put out 70euro, which you can write off taxes. (mind you,

  • by h7 (1855514)

    Is a mobile hotspot some great unheard of technology? Even a cheap mobile phone or laptop can set up a hotspot. They just took the hardware and put it in a car instead of somewhere else.

    • by gvoima (1868430)
      True, I'm actually quite surprised that this hasn't been done on high-end vehicles earlier.
  • I'm not normally one who subscribes to the brain cancer hype, but this seems a little close even for me. Basically you're talking about an RF transmitter sitting a foot from everyone's head, and people tend to spend a good bit of time in their cars.

    OK, come on with it... yeah I'm a lunatic. But I'm not a lunatic who thinks having an antenna stuck a foot from your head, beaming a signal for hours on end, would necessarily be what I would call a "feature." Maybe if the antenna was stuck in the bermuda box or

    • Audi probably tunes this thing down a LOT. It only has to work in a ~4 foot radius anyway, and the outer shell of the car will keep most of those waves/energy inside for a few bounces, so this wont be like duct-taping a linksys router onto the ceiling of your car.

    • by ZDRuX (1010435)
      You're right in your careful thinking. I have a D-Link home router sitting literally 3 feet away from me on my desk, and with the WiFi radio transmitter on HIGH, I really had a hard time falling asleep after an 8hr period sitting beside it. I was restless and felt like crap all day long. I don't know if it was the weather, maybe just me feeling less than perfect or if the router actually played any role in it. But It's now on LOW and a little out of the way of my head, today I woke up at 6am and feel a litt
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dwinks616 (1536791)
        2.4GHz and 5GHz signals simply don't interact much with flesh. The signal strength is far too low to do anything other than nearly immeasurably heat the dead layer of skin in your epidermis. It's scientific fact that wifi and cellular signals have no measurable effect on human tissues. They don't put out "radiation" in the sense of an x-ray or gamma. It's non-ionizing radiation and anyone claiming it gives them a headache is just imagining things.
  • by 2gravey (959785)
    Doesn't every major auto maker offer mobile hot spots on 2010 models? What is so different about this?
    • by nametaken (610866) *

      A good point, but probably because this is an awesome, high profile car that you probably wouldn't expect this particular feature in.

      News about soccer-mom vans may be more relevant to our miserable everyday lives, but it's nice to dream about our "some day" vehicles getting more toys. :)

  • And? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RMH101 (636144)
    If I go and buy a Mifi and a 12v cigarette lighter to usb cable, I could wire it in behind the dash myself in 10 minutes.
    • What I suspect is that the mobile hotspot is probably part of a bundle of data features that tie into other parts of the system that would be difficult-to-impossible to do in another car with just a Mifi.

      For example, mobile data would enable traffic updates, map updates, periodic polling for recall info, reporting car operation data or problems to the manufacturer or dealer, etc.

      I can see getting an email or a phone call from a service adviser telling me "your car is indicating trouble codes for $car_system

  • by zebslash (1107957) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:35AM (#33226908)

    [...]enabling passengers to connect to the vehicle's network without affecting the battery life of their connected devices.

    Can someone explain this? or is it just marketing bs? As far as I know, the battery life of the devices that are connected to some access point or router is not affected by the nature of the router. The fact it uses low power components is important for the car's battery (or fuel consumption), not for the attached device! Or am I missing something?

    • by gvoima (1868430)
      The router configuration shouldn't affect the mobile device itself. I think there was a mistake between the reporter and engineer :) Maybe they ment, that it doesn't use much power, so that you can't start the car after posting on slashdot while not running the car.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Marketing BS.

      And it's probably not important for the car, either - I'm pretty sure a car can't actually burn more gas to power something electrical.
      • by plover (150551) *

        And it's probably not important for the car, either - I'm pretty sure a car can't actually burn more gas to power something electrical.

        But it does. Electricity in a car isn't free. It has to be produced by the alternator, and spinning the alternator takes additional power from the engine. Additional power means additional fuel to provide that power.

        You might be able to demonstrate it to yourself with a simple experiment some day when you're bored. In a quiet place, with the car sitting at idle, turn the headlights on and off (set the high beams on.) Listen carefully for a slight drop in engine speed when the lights come on, then liste

        • by s122604 (1018036)
          Considering car alternators have to be buff enough to power defrosters, wipers, headlights, and at the same time replace losses from starting, the few amps this system draws is likely to be neglible..
          • by plover (150551) *

            Negligible, sure. But the parent said "a car can't actually burn more gas to power something electrical," and that's simply not correct. Every single watt of energy expended by the car, whether the end result is mechanical, electrical, heat, or whatever, originates from those liquid dinosaurs in the tank. More consumption of any sort requires more fuel input into the system.

    • Marketing bs.

    • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:48AM (#33226994)
      Data radios in gadgets usually ramp up their power if the signal they receive from whatever they are connecting to is very weak, causing massive battery drain. That's why a cellphone in a busy city (with a strong signal from the many close cell towers) will last considerably longer than a phone in an area with very weak service. I guess if they fit their antennas in a sensible manner (ie not blocking the signal with chunks of metal and lots of leaky wires), they'll be able to bathe the inside of the cabin with sweet, sweet radio waves, allowing all the devices in the car to essentially whisper to each other.
    • [...]enabling passengers to connect to the vehicle's network without affecting the battery life of their connected devices.

      Can someone explain this? or is it just marketing bs? As far as I know, the battery life of the devices that are connected to some access point or router is not affected by the nature of the router. The fact it uses low power components is important for the car's battery (or fuel consumption), not for the attached device! Or am I missing something?

      Did they maybe include an inverter in the option group?
      -- note: I didn't read the article

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Er, did you forget about the Subaru outback which will also have this?

    http://www.zercustoms.com/news/2011-Subaru-Outback-Mobile-WiFi.html

  • Until the auto sensor grid has some MIBs and an SNMP read-only community name so my home system can download log data, WLAN in a vehicle is just a toy. Otherwise this is just a pointless trivial implementation to generate profits and marketing fuzz.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Actually a WLAN Hotspot is already an option (~300 EUR) in Citroen cars, at least in Germany.

  • Great that the A8 has finally met the luxury of a truck.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by phoebus1553 (522577)

      Great that the A8 has finally met the luxury of a truck.

      I thought close to the same thing myself, since I was pretty sure there was a Dodge commercial about theirs years ago. According to TFA, this is the first as a 'factory' option. Chrysler's apparently is a dealer-install, and if you google for 'chevrolet hotspot' one of the first links is the original announcement that states theirs is a dealer accessory as well.

      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        Who gives a flip if it's a dealer accessory or installed at the factory? The fact remains this is nothing new.

        It has been trivial to get internet access in a vehicle for years and years.

        • by dave420 (699308)
          This is something new. This is a car that is being designed with containing a mobile hotspot in mind. That is something considerably different to "everyone loves internets to lets put some in a box and let the dealer screw it to some metal and hope the signals aren't screwed up by the large metal chassis and wires". If you can't see the difference, then, wow, I guess :)
          • by Degrees (220395)

            I agree with you - it is nice to see the manufacturer design it in (and supposedly figure out how to extend the design in a way that makes computing pervasive within the cabin). However, I would prefer some sort of docking station for my Droid / iPod. My Droid will soon be a MiFi, and is already a super GPS. And speech-to-SMS box. And car radio. And law-enforcement-style video recorder. And eventually, a Hulu streamer.

            My point is that with a dock for a general purpose device, I could do far more, and,

  • Internet access in a car? Wireless no? Insert joke about moving your house around to find said WIfi hotspots.

    Instead of TVs everywhere in Max Headroom, it's Internet access in real life.

  • It seems to me this is just another excuse to enable <cough/> your car <cough/> to be able to "phone home" to its real masters.

    First there was OnStar - "Oh look at all nifty things we can do for (to) you: we can lock and unlock your car, kill the engine (but only if the cops ask nicely we pinky swear!), and tell you when you need to pay our dealership for service!"

    People like me said "No, thank you - DO NOT WANT! Remove it. No, not 'disable it' - REMOVE IT. I want to see the hole where the modu

  • 1- Buy an unlocked Nokia S60 phone such as the relatively cheap E71.. not the locked E71x
    2- Get a SIM with data plan on a GSM carrier.. let's say AT&T
    3- Buy joikuspot for 9euro and you can turn your phone into a wifi hotspot.. it also works as a phone at the same time. Really.. you can talk on the phone while browsing on the web via wifi. It does eat the battery really quick so you will want to plug the phone into the charger

    I have been doing this in the car so that my passengers can use their laptops/i

  • My Android Nexus One can already act as a WiFi hotspot and I don't have to buy a separate data plan for my car. Most Android phones can do this once they are updated to 2.2 Froyo (at least the ones where the telecoms carriers don't have them locked down in "screw the customer" mode.)

    Why would I pay extra for this "feature" that I can already get with my phone?

  • Two questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @01:56PM (#33230328)
    1) Is the hotspot password encrypted?
    2) How closely do I have to follow the Audi to tap into it?

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