Tesla video conference call service shows developers are ready for a Tesla App Store
By @Maria Merano from Twitter
Over the years, vehicles have become another space for people to unwind and work. The pandemic has cemented the idea of in-car work spaces. Tesla’s cabins have become one of the most versatile spaces, partly thanks to its vehicles’ infotainment system.
Tesla Model S owner and CEO of Mass Luminosity Angel Munoz always believed his infotainment system could be put to better use.
For almost a year now, Munoz has been working on Beacon 4 Tesla, an in-car video conference service. Recently, Munoz invited Teslarati to join him and Beacon’s Senior VP of Technology Teodor Atroshenko for a video conference call inside his Tesla Model S.
“The process, the way it works is when you first set it up, you get into your Tesla, you launch the browser, you type in the BeaconX.com/Tesla. It shows you a QR code. You scan the QR code with your Beacon app and that logs you automatically into your car and then as soon as you join the call, the call basically appears on the screen there,” described Atroshenko.
HOW BEACON 4 TESLA WORKS
Munoz explained that Beacon 4 Tesla primarily worked through the driver’s phone at the moment.
“The phone does three functionalities. Number one, it streams the sound that [the Tesla passenger is hearing] through the speakers of the car. Two, you’re using the microphone [of the phone via bluetooth]. And three, it’s streaming the video that it’s receiving to your Tesla,” Munoz explained.
“So primarily, it’s the phone. Think about it that way, it’s primarily the phone right now since we don’t have access to the onboard computers and all that,” he said.
The final candidate for Beacon and Beacon 4 Tesla will be available in June. The services will officially launch on July 7, 2021. However, Beacon’s services are currently available for free for conference calls with up to six people.
Tesla owners interested in trying out Beacon 4 Tesla can use the service as well. Follow the instructions below:
1. Install the Beacon mobile app on your iOS (https://apple.co/2PVwMWG) and/or Android (https://bit.ly/3mk52XT) device.
2. Create a new Beacon account or login to an existing one.
4. Now launch the Tesla’s web browser and navigate to https://beaconx.com/tesla. The screen will now display a unique QR code.
5. On your Beacon mobile app, tap on the menu icon (vertical ellipsis) and select “Scan Beacon Code.” Point your mobile phone’s camera to the QR code. You will be prompted to confirm logging in to your Beacon account.
6. You are all set! While your Tesla is parked tap on the webcam icon next to any contact name on your Beacon app to initiate a video conference call in your Tesla.
For more information on Beacon® visit https://BeaconX.com
TESLA APP STORE FOR DEVELOPERS
Munoz and Atroshenko believe that Beacon 4 Tesla could offer a much better experience if the in-car video conferencing service had access to the in-cabin cameras currently active in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. The Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid will have cameras facing the cabin and a more powerful infotainment system. The Plaid Tesla vehicles also have surround sound speakers and noise cancellation features, technologies which can make in-car video conference calls very immersive.
“We would sign any kind of agreement with him [Elon Musk], if he just gives us access. And then it’d be a much better experience because it’s all tied in, there’d be an app on the Tesla instead of outside of the Tesla,” Munoz said.
Munoz and Atroshenko’s willingness to work with Tesla on Beacon’s in-car conferencing service hints that it may be time for the EV automaker to look into developing a dedicated Tesla App Store for third-party developers.
Munoz and Atroshenko did not set out to create Beacon 4 Tesla originally. They were simply enticed by the challenge of conducting video conference calls through Tesla’s infotainment system.
Atroshenko enumerated some of the challenges they faced while making Beacon 4 Tesla.
“We’re kind of making the best out of the situation—let’s put it that way. Because we can’t access the camera in Tesla. And the camera is not [an] HD camera. It has an overview of the interior, but basically it’s not up to par for video conferencing, at least not in this iteration. So hopefully the next cameras will be better, the ones facing the inside,” Atroshenko said.
After putting so much effort and work into the challenge, Munoz and Atroshenko want to share their work with all Tesla owners.
“Beacon 4 Tesla is free, so it comes with BeaconX. It’s our gift to Tesla and Elon Musk,” said Munoz. BeaconX is the conference call service the pair developed for laptops, phones and other devices.
Munoz and Atroshenko’s work hint that more app developers might be interested in building apps specifically for Tesla vehicles.
Tesla delivered almost 500,000 vehicles last year—despite the pandemic—and seems slated to deliver closer to 1 million cars in 2021. So far, Tesla has introduced a few in-car apps for drivers to use.
During the Q2 2020 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk and CFO Zachary Kirkhorn hinted that Tesla would launch a dedicated App Store once Full Self-Driving was ready and the company had a few million vehicles on the road. However, productive apps like Beacon 4 Tesla might be useful for Tesla passengers now.
Teslas used in ride-sharing fleets might benefit from an app store because apps could either entertain or make the ride more productive for passengers. Tesla apps might be useful for people who consider renting Tesla vehicles, too, especially for those on work trips or long family vacations traveling by car.
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