The development of the Hum system that provides telematics, vehicle diagnostics, vehicle location and roadside assistance shows how Verizon is re-inventing itself to be a digital company. In an interview with Senior Product Manager, Verizon Todd Ague gives insight into the hum development process. Recently Verizon launched the newere HumX device that adds Wi-Fi hotspots.
The promote HumX, Verizon is running a special when you buy HumX, you fget a $50 prepaid card. Along with Wi-Fi hotspots the Hum speaker phone with Bluetooth has proven to be very helpful for late model cars that don’t have a Bluetooth connection
Verizon Telematics created State Farm Insurance’s In-Drive service with an OBD-II reader and a speakerphone and then realized that the core features could be transferred to an alternative product.
“Research from focus groups showed that people needed a speakerphone and wanted auto-club-style features such as roadside assistance,” Ague who noted that people also wanted vehicle diagnostics as well as reports giving information about miles traveled and where they went.
Those who worked on Hum were at the cutting edge of Verizon’s transformation from a carrier to a digital company. Because to the transformation, the original name of the system was changed from Verizon Vehicle to “Hum” which is a fun short name. It also helps eliminate confusion by customers who have cellular service from other carriers.
Developers used expertise in object-oriented programming, QA testing, embedded C programming and data analytics along with core hardware and software development skills to meet the strong Verizon testing standards. Verizon looked at the aftermarket for such devices and saw a special niche that includes roadside assistance, trained specialists for emergency situations, the ability to speak to ASE-certified mechanics and interpreting the DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) via the device.
“The data is stored in the Verizon Cloud with strong data security,” said Augue. Oracle and Siebel platforms were deployed to program the Verizon Cloud while software from different vendors and proprietary Verizon cloud software were are used to program the OBD-II device.
The OBD-II reader uses the Verizon CDMA network and also features an accelerometer, decelerometer and gyroscope with a dedicated GPS module that is more precise than wireless phones. The sensors notify the call data center of a collision when a trained person tries to talk to the vehicle occupants and when necessary work closely with first responders.The call center sends not only the vehicle model but also the color of the vehicle to first responders. For stolen vehicles, a hum subscriber has to first contact the police to file a police report and then trained individuals will work with authorities to locate the vehicle.
The speakerphone is useful because it pairs via Bluetooth and placing it on the visor is close by. The speakerphone also pairs with the subscriber’s cell phone for hands-free calling or playing music.
The development team is constantly getting feedback and making improvements. Customers in stores and in social media reported that they wanted speed alerts and boundary alerts. Earlier this year, hum was updated to include boundary (entering and leaving a zone) and speed alerts via text, app notifications or email.
“We prioritize what’s important in the marketplace. Parents wanted to monitor their teens. We also found that Millennials like to have things presented in apps,” said Ague.
Verizon then released an update to allow the user to see his or her location on the cell phone near the vehicle’s location making it easier to return to the vehicle. Popular uses for vehicle locating is when someone parks on a street parking spot in an unfamiliar area or in large parking lot such as those at large malls and forgets the exact location. Another update added the ability to contact roadside assistance from the mobile apps.
Reporting features within the hum web portal and app allow users to see changes such as a decline in gas mileage. The subscriber can call a mechanic for assistance who might suggest changing the fuel filter or a tune-up. Subscribers can also set up reminders such as an oil change or tire rotation according to the mileage of the car that can be sent via text, email or app notification.The user can also be alerted to when the speakerphone needs to be charged by the 12 Volt port in the car or via a USB charger at home or in the office.
The Hum system can be purchased by Verizon customers to add on to their Verizon monthly bill. Verizon is running a special right now. When you buy HumX, you get a $50 Prepaid Card. Visit: vzw.com/digitalrebatecenter within 30 days of purchase and use code HUMSUMMER17 to redeem. (Deal ends August 31 check back for other coupon codes.)
Verizon may add new features in the future. It has a 20-year history working with automakers. Unfortunately, hum is not available in Alaska or Hawaii and only works in the United States.
The HumX box includes
- HumX OBD II Reader
- HumX Speaker/phone
- Li-Ion Polymer, 1000 mA-H
- 12 Volt Adaptor & Speaker Charging Cord
“It’s rewarding to work on a product that improves the quality of life for drivers and even has the potential to save lives,” said Augue.