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BMW’s future rides on the Vision iNext

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The BMW Vision iNext concept suggests the Ultimate Driving Machine will experience some mission creep.

BMW knows the Ultimate Driving Machine has to become the ultimate time machine.

“What would you do with more time in your life?” asked Klaus Fröhlich, member of the BMW board of management responsible for development, as he brought reporters aboard a custom Boeing 777 Freighter at SFO this week to see what BMWs will become.

Inside is the Vision iNext concept, a premium utility vehicle that “pilots all of the technology that will make the company future-proof for the next decade,” Fröhlich says. That means electric power, a cabin that begs you to sometimes ride, not drive, and technology that goes out of its way to stay out of your way.

I approached the car from its matte copper hood but was immediately drawn to the back: A gracious banquette spans the second row, while the front seat headrests bend back flat to open the space between the rows. It’s a far cry from the stern, almost technical seating of today’s BMWs that visually urges everyone to sit down, shut up and hang on.

A projector in the rear ceiling beams video down onto the pages of a special blank paper book, the content of which you change by turning to a page with a different glyph in its upper right hand corner. Gesture control actually starts to make sense here as you interact with the video on paper by manipulating your hand over it.

Even the cloth you sit on is interactive: Draw a circle on the seat fabric by your thigh and the car’s audio level goes up or down while the upholstery glows in confirmation, then fades out. “We call it ‘shy-tech,’ not high-tech,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of design for the BMW Group. It’s only there when you need it.” In this, BMW is aptly sensing the broader trend toward technology that is ambient, not prominent.

In front of the driver, two displays sit proudly on thin legs, comprising the entire front row interface. In autonomous drive mode they promise to capture your attention with all manner of contextual, connected content, but I am not convinced such rapture is any carmaker’s to own. The steering wheel recedes a few inches when the car is driving itself and, of course, the floor is flat and the cabin styled after modern boutique hotels. Those cues are replacing the gullwing door as de rigueur concept car fare.

Today’s BMW sometimes amuses me with a byzantine combination of drive modes, but the Vision iNext has none of that. You select Boost mode to drive it yourself, or Ease mode for autonomy. The savvy “shy-tech” theme is expressed nowhere more strongly than that.

Outside, the Vision iNext is a little hard to slot, visually. It only seats four, but has a vast space between its axle lines, and a greenhouse so airy and light you wonder if it will sag when you open the doors. Its lower body masses cast an imposing presence, even though it lacks almost any sharp body feature lines. Notice how the side glass daylight opening mimics the shape of the revised grille.

That dual kidney grille, one of the strongest brand devices in the auto industry, is stretched to its recognizable limit. The Vision iNext pulls it so far vertically it now resembles a butterfly and hides a sensor pack rather than a radiator. BMW says its still on track to deliver Level 4 autonomy by 2021, regulators allowing.

Source: cnet

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AirtelTigo to Integrate Mobile Transfer Systems

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Customers of Airtel Money and Tigo Cash will by the end of April 2018, be integrated onto a single platform to allow for mobile money transactions.

This is according to the CEO of Airtel Tigo, Roshi Motman.

The move which will make them the second biggest mobile money operator in the country also forms part of the integration of the two companies after their merger in November 2017.

The telecommunication company has signed an agreement with Mahindra Comviva, a global leader in providing mobility solutions to help the company deliver the mobile money service on a secure and reliable platform.

The integration is expected to deliver superior customer experience by providing access to wider agent network, reduce customer cost of transaction, and facilitate product innovation.

Addressing journalists at a press conference, Roshi Motan revealed that move will be done in collaboration with 20 banks in the country to increase liquidity in the market.

“Another important point is with our partner banks so we are increasing the number of our partner banks to approximately twenty of them and the reason why we are doing that is first of all we want to be able to ease the liquidity in the market”.

The mobile money service of Airtel Tigo is currently in collaboration with eleven banks, some of which are Ecobank, Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank, Barclays Bank and GCB Bank.

Madam Rotman also explained that the service also seeks to bring convenience to its customers,

“Another major point is that we want our customers to easily be able to put money in the mobile wallet from the banks and from the banks into the mobile wallet.”

Meanwhile Director of Airtel Tigo Money, Edmund Barwah who assured customers of a secure platform to conduct their transactions, said the operational vending centers will also be increased from the current thirty thousand to sixty thousand.

“The integration and the merger also presents to us an opportunity of an expanded agent base; today, one of the key transactions within mobile money is the cash in cash out, we are expanding the ecosystem which means that we will be readily available everywhere”.

“Currently we have about thirty thousand vendors and we are looking to double that figure to 60 thousand within the next few months”.

AirtelTigo registered mobile money customers is currently at 6 million with a value transaction count at 4.5 million per month

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Mobile Google CEO Promises 11 Daydream-compatible phones

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NASA seeks to build a quieter supersonic plane for passenger flight

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