How the Internet-of-Things saved our trip!

Many times before I have complained about the digitization of daily life, how we expect technology to take over our human interactions. This time, I sing the praise of the so-called “Internet-of-Things”.

Some of you may recognize this situation: you’re on vacation – for us it was Bedoin in France – and you are facing the final day of your stay. You plan for the last things before you have to start packing and enjoy the beautiful area one last time. With my camera in ready-mode I walk out the door and lock the front door of our Provence homestead. As I turn around my husband comes walking back from the car, with a face that would have the bright sunshine magically conjure up a rainbow. He mutters something under his breath that sounds suspiciously like: “I’ve locked the keys in the boot.” He keeps walking toward the front door as it dawns on me: that is what he said – the car is locked and the keys are in it.

The initial phone calls to BMW do not really make us happy. “The best thing, sir, is to put duct tape on one of the rear windows and smash it in. Or we could have the nearest dealer tow the car and break the window for you. Or we could have a set of spare keys produced, but this will take a few working days.” You’ve got to hand it to them; they were sincerely trying to help, but my husband’s car is almost brand new your heart would break with the window over damaging it.

We try to contact local home rental companies to see if there are people from Holland travelling to the area, and through Twitter we actually find a lady from the South of Holland who can bring us our spare keys (which we left back home, how smart are we?) two days later.

As we try to keep our cool, we call our friend Gert-Jan who works for BMW. My husband tells him that he can see the car on the BMW App, and is there a way to access the car with that knowledge. Gert-Jan and his colleague Sven see a challenge and instantly rise to the occasion. As it turns out the car is equipped with full Internet access and BMW has a service called “Connected Drive” that gives you some possibilities from outside the car. They do honestly tell us that usually this is installed from within the car, but that’s a luxury we don’t have at this point and it’s well worth a try. The Dusseldorp team arrange for us a license on the “Connected Drive” and have us install a different App on our I-Phone. We enter a number of security codes and security questions before we can continue. One of the functions on the App is that you can open and close the car via the I-Phone. We try a number of times, but the App does not see the car. The problem is we’re at the foot of the Mont Ventoux where Internet access is limited and so the car is not making contact. My husband tries over and over again, but it does not work. I hear myself thinking that this would be science-fiction, wouldn’t it? At the end of the day I hear Aart call out: “The App sees the car! Honey, the App sees the car!” I don’t want to spoil things by telling him I see the car too, but that doesn’t bring us much.

And sure enough a few seconds later he walks in with the widest smile I have seen on him in years: he’s holding the keys and points to the car. To be on the safe side he has opened every door the car possesses.

And that is how the Internet-of-Things saved our journey home, allowing us to be there in time for the birthday of our twin godsons’ first birthday celebration!

We have a new saying in our house: “To err is human, to App is divine!”

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