Technology

In These New Cars, Your Phone Gets Its Own Air Conditioner

In These New Cars, Your Phone Gets Its Own Air Conditioner
Image credit: Chevrolet
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Smartphones don’t play well with hot cars. If you’ve ever received the dreaded temperature warning on your phone’s home screen after leaving it in a sizzling vehicle for too long, you know exactly what we’re talking about. And so does General Motors.

The struggling American automaker knows your phone needs to cool out in the dog days of summer, too, just like you. If it doesn’t, if the temperature around your iPhone, Android or, fine, your BlackBerry, exceeds about 95 degrees, the high heat can shorten its battery life and potentially slow down its processor. Double bummer. Worse, permanent damage could occur and, in rare cases, the gadget you can’t live without could completely go kaput.

Related: Proceed With Caution: Should Smartphones Come With a Warning?

Terrifying, right? Well, GM, in a bid to "find new roads" and connect with tech-savvy younger drivers, doesn’t want any of the above to happen to your precious phone either. That’s why the 107-year-old company is adding a fancy new smartphone air-conditioning feature to some of its 2016 Chevy models, a modern move its hailing an “industry first.”

Finally, your phone can chill out in its own, personal “Active Phone Cooling” cubby, basically a nook outfitted with a plastic a/c vent nozzle. That is if you get behind the wheel of a wireless-charging equipped 2016 Chevy Cruze, Impala, Malibu or Volt.

GM says its engineers stumbled upon the idea while testing a smartphone wireless charging feature. “They noticed some smartphones would suspend charging or shut off all together after only a few minutes in high temperatures inside a car’s cabin,” a statement from the Detroit-based company reads. To combat the problem, they simply directed an air vent connected to the car’s a/c and ventilation system at the “charging bin where the phone rests.” And -- easy, breezy -- cooled air helps keep your phone from frying like an egg. Crisis averted...or so they say.

Related: Texting and Driving? Not So Fast -- General Motors is Watching You

“Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” Impala engineer Dan Lascu says. “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.”

Simple -- or just plain silly -- we see this thing catching on, given ‘Murica’s incurable addiction to smartphones. Someday, probably sooner than later, maybe smartphone a/c will come standard in all vehicles, even the ones we won’t drive. Either way, here’s to hoping better backseat a/c routing rolls out first to keep other precious cargo -- like living things, pets and kids -- cool.

Related: GM Open to Working With Google on Developing Self-Driving Cars      

For more on how the chill new feature works, check out this video:

What do you think? Do you want smartphone a/c in your ride? Tell us in the comments section below.

Related: This Handy Gadget Is Like Google Glass For Your Car

Edition: December 2016

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