“BlackBerry Drive:” A New Automobile Accessory from RIM?
A recently filed patent application from RIM suggests the company could be working on a new automobile accessory for BlackBerry.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
Today the list of tasks your BlackBerry smartphone can’t perform is relatively slim, thanks to the many valuable applications available on the market. Based on a U.S. patent application recently filed by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM), that list could soon get even smaller.
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent number 85060365, filed on June 11, 2010, mentions the term “BlackBerry Drive.” And though it’s not yet clear what exactly this name is referring to, it’s possible that RIM is working on a new, keychain accessory that could lock and unlock your vehicle’s doors, start its motor and more.
“IDENTIFICATION: Key fobs; non-electric cables and wires of common metal; small items of metal hardware; goods of common metal not included in other classes.”
Again, the patent application isn’t specific enough to be sure what the text is referring to. But the term “key fobs” could be in reference to some keychain-like accessory.
Such a device wouldn’t be RIM’s first automobile accessory; the BlackBerry-maker released a BlackBerry-branded speakerphone with FM radio transmitter, called the BlackBerry Visor Mount Speakerphone VM-605, last year. (Read my full review of that accessory.) So it’s clear the company has focused time and energy on applications for the automobile space in the past.
RIM’s recent acquisition of software development firm QNX, maker of the popular Neutrino real time OS (RTOS), which is frequently used within automobiles, also sheds some light on RIM’s plans to boost BlackBerry/vehicle integration in the future. And a BlackBerry Drive system/accessory could be the next step in these plans.
RIM wouldn’t be the first company to enable BlackBerry smartphones to unlock car doors and remotely perform other related functions. Viper SmartStart for BlackBerry, which must be installed both in your vehicle and on your BlackBerry device, already lets users lock and unlock their vehicles, start their motors and even open trunks remotely via BlackBerry.
If that’s all the BlackBerry Drive accessory is designed for, than its unclear why exactly a separate key fob accessory would be needed, since locking and unlocking and starting vehicle motors could all be done via BlackBerry application, as is the case with SmartStart.
It’s worth noting that RIM, like many other technology companies, frequently files patent applications for technologies that never make it to market, so the BlackBerry Drive, whatever it may be, could never see the light of day anyway.
But RIM’s recent history of releasing automobile-related products and services, the QNX acquisition and other related rumors, seem to suggest the BlackBerry Drive could also soon become a reality.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.