Combining dashcam technology with Cloud computing has the potential to change the way vehicles are monitored by owners and fleet operators.
“I think BlackVue Over the Cloud has a strong disruptive potential,” said Hyunmin Hur, CEO and founder of South Korean company Pittasoft in a press statement on the release of the service at the Mobile World Congress held in Shanghai this July. “BackVue dashcams already set the standard for reliability, simplicity and connectivity. The Cloud will differentiate our products even further by enabling an affordable and hassle-free remote surveillance solution.”
According to Pittasoft, BlackVue Over the Cloud introduces six key features made possible by the integration of BlackVue Internet-connected dashcams, the BlackVue Cloud and the BlackVue App for smartphones and tablets.
Live View enables users to monitor the family’s car in real time from anywhere in the world. Emergency Alarm allows vehicle owners to be alerted as soon as certain preset events occur. GPS Tracking adds the ability to visualize on a map a car’s location and speed. Two-way voice communication connects customers to drivers through the dashcam’s integrated speaker and microphone. With Video Backup users can move files from the dashcam’s memory to the Cloud storage or their smartphone right from the app. Remote Video Playback means videos stored in the Cloud or in a dashcam can be played anytime on a smartphone or tablet.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Dr Hur why he believes BlackVue Over the Cloud will be a game-changer.
Hur: Even when we introduced Wi-Fi-connected dashcams to the market people still had to be in range of their dashcam to connect to it. With BlackVue Over the Cloud, you can connect to your car anytime and anywhere you want. This opens possibilities that have not yet been explored. First, it strengthens the usefulness of the dashcam as a surveillance tool when your car is parked, since now you can be warned via notification on your mobile whenever something unusual happens. Even if someone manages to open your car without triggering the G-sensor and disconnects the dashcam, it will send you a “Dashcam disconnected” message because the messages are sent to you by the Cloud server. Then, for small and medium-sized businesses in particular it enables live monitoring of a whole fleet of vehicles without requiring a particularly expensive set-up.
Think about it: all it takes is a dashcam, a mobile hotspot, and a smartphone. Virtually everybody owns a smartphone, and more and more people realize the benefits of using a dashcam. Mobile hotspots are an interim solution until every car comes loaded with Internet connectivity, which is going to happen very soon.
AI: What gives it “disruptive potential”?
Hur: Vehicle security systems are not new, but they are still pretty expensive, and require technicians for installation, maintenance and repair. By comparison, dashcams are very simple to install. In case the unit needs to be serviced, it’s easy to pop it out of its attachment ring and replace it on the spot. Now imagine if your vehicle is hijacked. Having a camera and DVR on board might not help you much, as the assailants will just have to destroy the device to erase video evidence of the attack. With your footage uploaded to the Cloud attackers won’t have that option. Add to this the ability to connect to the Cloud for remote live monitoring, GPS tracking and two-way voice communication, and BlackVue Over the Cloud becomes an attractive alternative for a number of applications.
AI: How have Pittasoft’s dashcam technologies evolved over the years?
Hur: The first model we released was the DR300. It was arguably bare-bone, but it had a lot of the qualities that make the BlackVue dashcam stand out: sleek design, discretion, and simplicity of use. In 2010 we added the GPS function, and the following year we released the first Full HD dashcam globally. It was a big hit. In 2012, we added Wi-Fi, which enabled users to set up their dashcam and manage videos directly from their smartphone. After focusing on individual cars, we expanded our range of dashcams to target the commercial vehicle market, with the introduction in 2014 of our TRUCK model, a heavy-vehicle dual-channel dashcam with waterproof casing on the rear camera, embedded with IR lights. It also had the uniqueness of coming with a 15m cable, allowing installation on a wide range of commercial trucks. This year, our major release is BlackVue Over the Cloud, which relies on our existing dashcams’ Wi-Fi connectivity to open new possibilities. Overall, our technology has evolved to take advantage of the devices and services our customers already use or are familiar with.
AI: What is your company’s product strategy?
Hur: At the core of our strategy is a razor-sharp focus on making the best dashcams. Just the best dashcams. As simplistic as it may sound, this guiding principle has allowed us to avoid the pitfalls of feature creep, to streamline our offering and sometimes helped us make hard yet necessary decisions. We see competitors trying to replace Advanced Driver Assistance Systems with their dashcams, and others who incorporate 3G/4G modules. We prefer to leave these things respectively to car manufacturers and telecom operators, and instead to focus on improving video quality and connectivity.
AI: How has BlackVue’s Wi-Fi-enabled products impacted the market?
Hur: It had a huge impact at several levels. At the time, LCD-enabled dashcams were starting to inundate the market, and although we do have a model with LCD display, our flagship is a non- LCD dashcam. LCD dashcams can be convenient to set up, but there is not much use for the display afterwards. Our introduction of Wi-Fi-enabled models made set up and management easy by using our free mobile application, and allowed us to do without a dedicated screen. That meant more unobtrusive devices that you can set up and forget. In most cars our dashcams are virtually invisible to the driver as they are hidden behind the rearview mirror, with the lens close to the windshield in order to avoid reflections and minimize vibrations. And finally, through our early introduction of Wi-Fi in dashcams we acquired the know-how that was the foundation for our Cloud service.
AI: How do you see the connected car evolving?
Hur: The connected car is evolving so fast that I won’t venture into making bold predictions. But we can safely expect cars to be more and more connected. I think the whole automotive industry will be deeply impacted. People now take Internet connectivity for granted at home, so why not in their car? The big question is to what extent IT giants like Google and Apple will disrupt the industry. As cars become essentially computers on wheels, their position is likely to get stronger. We can see it already with CarPlay and Android Auto, which are well positioned to occupy the dashboard space. At some point I would not be surprised to see new car buyers base their purchase on software-related features. Then, there is the hacking issue. The automotive industry as a whole will have to make tremendous efforts to take on this challenge, which is rather new for most of the established automotive players. Big IT companies might have the advantage there too.
AI: What role do you see for Pittasoft in the evolution of connected cars?
Hur: I think Pittasoft has a lot to offer to enhance users’ experience and protection, even as autonomous driving and connected car become commonplace. We actually see even greater opportunities for dashcams in a connected car world. With hacking risks becoming more serious, drivers will be even more willing to use a dashcam to document possible hacking attempts made on their car. Imagine if a hacker took control of your car, resulting in damage or injuries, but the hacker leaves no trace: you will be relieved having video footage of the attack to show to your insurance company