British automaker MG Motor has unveiled its iSMART Next Gen platform that will debut in India with the MG Hector, its upcoming compact SUV. Showcasing the smart car platform at a media event in Delhi on Tuesday, the company said the MG Hector will be India's first Internet-enabled car with features like OTA software updates and more. Built in partnership with a host of companies that all made an appearance at the event, the smart car platform will be one of big highlights of the MG Hector, potentially giving it an edge over the competition like Jeep Compass and Tata Harrier.
Taking centerstage in the MG Hector will be a 10.4-inch touch-enabled head unit and a voice-based assistant. Developed by Nuance, the company says Voice Assist is specifically designed for India, and is trained to understand the Indian accent.
Activated with ‘Hello MG', Voice Assist in the MG Hector will understand over 100 commands that will let you do things like open and close windows and the sunroof, control air conditioning, navigation, and more. As you would expect, the assistant — which is optimised to work even under poor network conditions — will use AI and machine learning to get better over time.
The head unit — which will come with some amount of preloaded entertainment content — features a user interface that's optimised for portrait (vertical) orientation. The unit is designed to survive extreme temperatures, the company added.
Powering connectivity for the MG Hector will be an embedded SIM, using a solution that's been developed by Unlimit in partnership with Cisco and Airtel. The Internet-enabled SIM will also ensure that the Hector will receive over-the-air (OTA) software upgrades just like a modern smartphone.
Navigation in MG Hector will be powered by TomTom, and unlike most built-in navigation systems, your maps will actually get updated without the need to visit a service centre, thanks to the aforementioned Internet connectivity.
The companion iSMART mobile app on your smartphone will be able to give you information like the location of car, tyre pressure, and even tell you if you forgot to lock the doors (and lock them with a tap if you did). You will also be able to switch on the air-conditioner remotely, a feature that is sure to become a favourite pretty soon. The app will even let owners schedule a service for their MG Hector and keep track of the car's service history.
Other features include the ability to geo fence your MG Hector, so it cannot be taken out of a predefined zone. The platform will also be capable of analysing your driving style and give you data points that will help you drive smarter.
There are other safety and convenience features as well, like eCall emergency response system that can alert emergency contacts and/ or the relevant authorities in case the car's airbags get deployed. A helpline that'll direct you to nearby restaurants and other services will be accessible to MG Hector customers with a tap on the giant touchscreen.
“The integration of Internet with cars opens up a gamut of features that can ensure a seamless and updated ownership experience for MG customers in India,” said Rajeev Chaba, President & Managing Director, MG Motor India. “With an embedded SIM card and OTA, the MG Hector promises to do a lot more over time with constantly-expanding capabilities, to create a seamless driving experience, throughout the life of the car.”
The company added that it plans to use leverage technology to improve the car-buying experience as well.