Gadget Review: Automatica Makes Some Cars Into Smart Cars


Automatica by INRETEAutomatica by INRETEIt is no secret the cars are getting smarter. Google is testing a car right now that drives itself. When my kids grow up, they will be saying things like, “I remember when my parents had to drive me to places… Now you kids, just get in your iCar and tell Siri where you want to go.” Many brand new models now include internal wi-fi.

In the past few years, we have seen the addition of Bluetooth connectability, communication via rear view mirror (OnStar), and integrated on-board computer entertainment systems. All these things are great, but what if your vehicle is a little bit older? Well as long as your automobile has a USB input, Automatica by Inrete has you covered for in-car entertainment.

AutomaticaAutomaticaI recently had a chance to check one of these interesting little hook-ups. Basically, what this unit does is gives your vehicle, or anything else with a USB input, the ability to receive and store internet data. Kind of like what you would do with your smartphone except this stays in your vehicle and pulls data from a cloud server.

After the initial system setup, the user has access to the Automatica cloud server. From there, he or she would add their music playlist or podcast subscriptions or anything else from the internet to enjoy. Then they would place the unit in their car and forget about it. Every time the Automatica unit is in proximity to open wi-fi or approved password protected wi-fi, it updates its internal memory. That is it – just control the unit through your vehicle’s receiver like you would any mp3 player.

I did use my iPhone for most of these features already, but this added another level of accessibility (and no data usage costs). It was really nice to have latest podcasts automatically downloaded as soon as they became available. I really enjoyed having access to my vehicle’s playlist from any computer with internet also. Mind you, the Automatica is not for everyone. If your vehicle does not have a USB connection to the receiver, then it would not provide you with the ‘mobile’ part of mobile entertainment. Of course, I liked mine so much, that when my wife took the car, i took the unit out and hooked it to the Xbox 360 – Bam, streaming podcasts on the couch for my day off. Yes, I am pretty sure you can do listen to podcasts on Xbox without this unit, but this was much easier and already set up….

For a single price and no monthly cost alternative, that allows internet streaming on the go, I would recommend the Automatica.

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