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BMW app alerts drivers of traffic light changes

Mobile phone app integrated into BMW onboard displays

Published: August 10, 2015, 11:00 AM
Updated: August 12, 2015, 11:40 PM

Connected Signals Enlighten app in a BMW

Tired of hitting red light after red light on your commute? Wish there was some easy way to time those lights so they would all come up green? Well, there’s an app for that. And if you purchase a new BMW, it’s going to help you string those green lights together right there in your instrument panel.

The mobile app, created by Connected Signals, is already available on iPhone and Android phones. It’s called EnLighten, and BMW is the first to integrate it into its vehicles’ onboard displays, but only if they have BMW Apps and pair up with iPhones.

Enlighten interacts with the local traffic infrastructure and the vehicle speed based on the Smartphone’s GPS positioning to countdown the changes in traffic lights in real time. The idea is to help the driver save fuel by cutting down on full stops, and also to increase safety by negating the need to change speeds radically (to make green lights before they change, slow drastically when lights change to yellow, or jump into intersections spurred on by an impatient honk from behind).

EnLighten displays the current status of the light with a countdown to when it will change, which is relevant not only as you’re approaching the intersection but also when you’re stopped at it. It also recommends to the driver whether to prepare to stop or continue through. An audible alert tells the driver that the light is about to change.

At lights with advanced greens for turning lanes, activation of the car’s turn signal changes the display to just show the relevant traffic signal.

The downside is that not all cities are on the smart signal network. To date, only Las Vegas, the California cities of Arcadia and Walnut Creek, Portland and Eugene in Oregon, and Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden in Utah are on the North American map. Palo Alto, California is on the verge of linking up, as is Garland, Texas. Other cities in development include Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York, Pittsburgh and Miami/Fort Lauderdale corridor.