If you’ve ever gotten stuck behind one red light after another during your daily commute, you’ll likely appreciate a new feature BMW has added that could save you time, gas and a fair bit of frustration. The automaker is working with an Oregon tech start-up to alert its drivers when the next stoplight is about to go green or red or suggest the best speed to avoid a wait. A future version could even raise an alarm if you’re about to run a light.
In a growing number of cities, stoplights are being linked up in a regional network. They operate in sequence and may even adjust their timing to improve traffic flow. The EnLighten app, developed by Connected Signals, of Eugene, Oregon, can tap into those urban networks and determine when you’re approaching a light using a smartphone’s GPS feature. The system can then figure out whether the light is going to be red or green, and whether it’s about to change colors. The Enlighten app is already available for iOS and Android smartphones. But BMW is going the next step. For Apple users, it has developed a system that can read the app and display it on your instrument panel – but only on cars equipped with the optional BMW Apps feature.
The display does more than report the obvious, that a light has turned red or green. Among other things, it will give an alert when the light is about to change. And it will predict whether you need to speed up or slow down to make the light. The BMW version of the EnLighten app is even smart enough to recognize when you have a turn signal on, so it can alert you if there’s a separate green arrow for a left turn.