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#Chinese #Device Turns Old #Cars into #WiFi #Pylons

ZTE USA
The potential for recycling outdated technology never ceases to amaze me. A Chinese phone company called ZTE have developed a kind of dongle device which, when plugged into an old car (any model made since 1996), turns it into a wi-fi hotspot. It inserts into the car's on-board diagnostics (or OBD-II) port, which powers the check engine light (don't worry, this doesn't compromise that). Other devices have been developed to fit this port, like a roadside assistance/diagnostic aid called Hum and a pay-per-mile insurance ticker.

The ZTE device, called Mobley, is the first wi-fi broadcaster to be developed for it, though. You could do the same job with any phone which is outfitted to broadcast wi-fi, but obviously that will drain its power. It functions using AT&T's network, and you can take out a standalone plan for it or just add it on to your current policy. The device itself costs $100.

ZTE are starting to do really well in the States. Alongside this device, their range includes the world's fastest 4G LTE mobile router, high end surveillance equipment, an award-winning smartphone and a portable projector which doubles as a wireless hotspot. This is probably the most interesting, practical thing they've yet released though, as it removes the barrier between older cars and newer tech, a common issue since many people don't upgrade their cars anywhere near as often as their tech. It will certainly be invaluable to anybody used to driving around with a car full of screaming children.

There is a trust element to it, however. There haven't been any controversial stories about ZTE as such, but other OBD devices have been used as hacking tools. Last month reports surfaced about a group of researchers who hooked one of the aforementioned diagnostics monitors up to a Corvette, and then used it to hack into the car controls, from there they were able to turn the wipers on, engage the brakes and even disable them at low speed. This was all done using a phone number and a set of SMS instructions.

It seems less likely that anyone will be capable of using a Mobley to the same end, since it doesn't interface with any of the car's internal operations (and such a trick would only really work on a modern car anyway), but it's still worth bearing in mind, especially since this is likely to spawn a whole range of copycat devices on other networks.


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#Chinese #Device Turns Old #Cars into #WiFi #Pylons Reviewed by Callum Davies on Saturday, September 12, 2015 Rating: 5

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