Automotive connectivity + innovation:
How Chamberlain Group keeps safety at the core
As Director of Automotive Sales & Product Strategy at Chamberlain Group and with over 25 years of automotive engineering and technology experience, I’ve had a front-seat view of the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), and how it has enabled us to control more of our world from anywhere. The automotive industry is in the thralls of tremendous disruption, influenced by market demand for digitization and new means of connecting drivers to their vehicles, homes and devices. As manufacturers evolve to meet the demand for a seamless experience between the car, home and beyond, emerging technologies are continuously finding their way into everyday life. And while we’re enhancing the driver experience by increasing control and convenience, we must also ensure safety is at the core of this evolution.
For example, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a motor vehicle either started or left running in the garage while the door is closed has become more common due to keyless ignition and remote starts. As Mike Austin recently wrote in Car and Driver magazine, “As vehicles become more appliancelike and consumers become less and less engaged with how they work, the risk of problems like this (CO poisoning) only becomes more likely.” (Source: Car and Driver, 7.28.19) This risk must be addressed. The latest coverage of accidental deaths and injuries from CO poisoning related to keyless vehicles revealed a significant rise since 2006. (Source: The New York Times, 6.28.19) Without the trigger of turning a key, a distracted mind can easily skip over the step of ensuring the engine is off, and the driver exits without realizing a potentially dangerous situation is developing. Within an enclosed space, such as a garage, elevated levels of carbon monoxide can be lethal, and the effects are tragically quick. In fact, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that CO concentrations reach the Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) concentration of 1,200 parts per million (ppm) in only 7 minutes when a small 5 horsepower gasoline engine is running in a 10,000 cubic-foot room.
Such reports highlight a hazard that industry efforts have yet to fully prevent. With keyless entry now standard in more than half of the vehicles sold in the U.S. each year, some automakers support enforcing automatic vehicle shut-off. This suggests strides in the right direction are taking shape but haven’t removed the risk entirely. Some automakers have already taken matters into their own hands. For example, Ford added automatic shut-off in all its keyless vehicles beginning with its 2015 models. This ensures the car automatically turns off after it’s been idling for an extended period of time. Additionally, Toyota announced that its 2020 keyless models will come equipped with an automatic shut-off function.
Since the technology is so new, millions of car owners with keyless ignitions or remote start technology may be unaware of the risk, or of the degree to which their tech-connected vehicles are regulating safety. As the industry continues to advance in new technology, I believe it’s on us —innovators within the auto industry— to build safety nets that help prevent these accidents altogether.
HOW? THE FUTURE STATE OF VEHICLE-TO-GARAGE CONNECTIVITY INCLUDES THE STATE OF THE GARAGE DOOR
At Chamberlain Group, we’ve introduced and implemented the patented myQ® smart technology to conveniently connect users to their garage from anywhere in the world. myQ technology gives users complete and custom control over the functionality of the garage door opener, gate operator system and other points of home entry, whether at home or away. For example, through the myQ app, users can check the status of the garage door and open or close it anytime, from anywhere. This feature provides invaluable peace of mind, security and convenience. However, giving access to the largest and heaviest door in the home with no line of sight is not a convenience we take lightly. Safety measures, infrared photo eyes and audio and visual alerts have all been built in to make myQ technology as safe as possible and proactively reduce potentially dangerous situations.
MYQ HAS EVOLVED TO MAKE THE GARAGE DOOR OPENER JUST AS INTUITIVE AS THE VEHICLES INSIDE THE GARAGE
We launched myQ Auto™ to seamlessly integrate in-vehicle communications with connected home technology, providing enhanced safety and vehicle-to-garage connectivity within the vehicle’s infotainment system. In addition, myQ Auto is the only software that can identify the state of the garage door (open or closed) and vehicle presence inside the garage through our Intelligent Door State™ monitoring. By knowing the state of the door and the presence of the vehicle, OEMs can remove the risk of a user accidentally remote-starting a car with the garage door still closed.
The state of the door (whether it’s open or closed) as well as the vehicle’s location (inside or outside of the garage) can be identified through the myQ cloud and our proprietary algorithms that track if, when and where a vehicle has crossed the infrared safety beam of our monitored photo eyes, which are located 6 inches above the garage floor. By knowing the state of the door, this allows us to partner with auto manufacturers and Tier 1 providers to implement Safe Remote Start™. When a user starts their vehicle by using their OEM app on their phone, the action will instantaneously communicate with the OEM’s cloud, which then communicates with the myQ cloud. If a car is in the garage with the door closed, the user receives an alert from their OEM app notifying them that it’s unsafe to start the car. The user is then asked if they want to open the garage door to start their vehicle, or the door will automatically open if using a remote start application. Unique to Chamberlain Group, these preventative measures provide the necessary safety checks to stop accidental and incidental actions from becoming larger, more dangerous and potentially tragic situations. When it comes to smart-tech innovations, we are always proactive with our efforts.
OUR LEGACY: DRIVERS OF SAFETY AND INNOVATION
We at Chamberlain Group are often driving change in the industry. The garage door is the largest entry to the home, and we have been the catalyst and the lead in automating the garage door, as well as the advocate in regulating safety standards for it. We are committed to the highest standards of product safety—it’s who we are, it’s how we do business, and it’s how we develop safety protocols that shape the industry. For more than 50 years, we have manufactured garage door openers and maintained a safety record that continually ranks as one of the best in the industry.
As manufacturers, developers and disruptors, we have to be thinking, evolving and innovating with safety as the anchor in our efforts. At Chamberlain Group, we ensure that safety remains at the forefront of every new technology we bring to the market and our automotive OEM partners. We continue to invest in and develop solutions that improve and elevate the functionality of our products. While there are many benefits to an interconnected home and vehicle, implementing solutions that anticipate and neutralize potential issues provides an extra layer of protection and security to users who are still learning how to integrate new technology seamlessly into their lives. We believe a foundation of intelligent safety is invaluable and necessary so that potentially dangerous situations are mitigated. Our commitment continues to raise the bar for not only our customers, but for emerging smart technology and innovations to come.