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AT&T links up with Harman to deliver connected features to older cars

Tyrone Stewart

Harman SparkAT&T has teamed up with Samsung subsidiary Harman to bring connected car features to older vehicles, removing the need to purchase a new car to enjoy the modern technologies.

With the Harman Spark, developed alongside automotive software company Tantalum, drivers just have to download the app from the App Store or Google Play and plug the dongle into the on-board diagnostics port (OBD II) beneath their steering wheel. Doing so opens up the vehicle to in-app payments, emergency crash assistance, a virtual mechanic, a feature which keeps an eye on your car when you’re away from it, a roadside assistance manager, a wi-fi hotspot, and more.

“With Harman Spark, just about any car can be transformed into an LTE connected car,” said Chris Penrose, president of internet of things solutions at AT&T. “You get the most advanced connected services available on new cars plus some that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Sanjay Dhawan, Harman CTO and president of Harman Connected Services, added: “Consumers today are looking for simple devices that make their lives efficient and seamless. Harman Spark allows them to easily and affordably transform older vehicles into smart cars of the future with connected applications.”

The dongle works with most 1996 models and newer. It will cost $79.99 from AT&T retail stores across the US and online from Friday 28 September. Plans start at $5 per month for plans with wi-fi, while plans including wi-fi are offered as a standalone or an addition to eligible AT&T Unlimited and Mobile Share plans. For a limited time, people who buy a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, or Note 9 will be able to pick up a Spark for $29.99.