House lights that you can control from your car. A sensor that texts you when your home is broken into. A health app that can save you money on the exact fitness tracker you need. While these all sound like ideas that a range of disparate companies would bring to a trade show, they're all coming to AT&T's network as part of the company's new plan to put communication software front and center. I checked out demonstrations of many of these concepts firsthand at AT&T's Innovation Showcase, and here's some of the coolest stuff I discovered.
Smart home gadgets and connected cars are both hot right now, but we've never seen the two come together quite in the way AT&T Drive allows for. This platform connects your vehicle to AT&T's Digital Life home automation service, allowing you to control any connected part of your home right from your car's dashboard. Did you leave the lights on or forget to lock the door before you left? You can fix either by simply issuing a voice command. AT&T Drive allows you to keep tabs on your house's status right from the dashboard, and, as I witnessed during a demo, acts on your voice requests in just a few seconds.
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ForHealth is far from the first fitness app that aggregates health data from all your various programs and accessories, but its approach is a unique one. For example, the app can make correlations between your sleep and exercise behavior, and will point out whether or not you run better after snoozing longer. ForHealth also promises to offer discounts on gear relevant to your workout needs, which might give you that extra push to finally buy a Fitbit.
A hot car is a parent or pet owner's worst nightmare, but the AT&T Foundry's Car Seat invention aims to prevent any potentially dangerous situations. The premise is simple: once connected to your vehicle, Car Seat can send you a text or e-mail to let you know that the inside of your vehicle is too hot, or that you simply need to bring your car in for a maintenance check. As a potentially live-saving device, we hope to see Car Seat become available sooner than later.
Another piece of technology that can alert you to potential threats, Sound Safari uses audio sensors to let you know what's happening in the world around you. In the demonstration I saw, an AT&T representative played back various noises, such as the breaking of glass or a dog's barking, into a sensor. The sound would trigger a text alert on the rep's phone, which let her know that someone smashed her home window, or that her canine was making noise. In addition to warning you about danger at home, Sound Safari is built to detect things such as nearby police sirens to keep you aware while you're walking the streets.
AT&T's Personal Security service is designed to provide peace of mind in situations where you might be uncomfortable, such as walking home late at night. The app offers a variety of ways to send alerts when you feel like you might be in danger, including the ability to automatically call AT&T's monitoring center if you don't reach your destination in a set amount of time. The software makes it easy to quickly call for the police or for medical help, and can even discreetly record what's happening with the screen powered down.