BMW's EnLighten App Tells You How To Time Stop Lights (And Helps Launch The V2G Revolution)

August 7, 2015

If you live in a city long enough, you get to understand its traffic lights. Some places, they're synchronized, so when your light turns green, you know how fast you can drive and hit the next one without slowing down. When it works right, it's a thing of beauty.

BMW has now made the light-timing process a whole lot easier, courtesy of its EnLighten app.

EnLighten allows BMW owners to know for sure when the next light will turn red, and it offers advice on how heavy (or light) to hit the pedal. One glance at the car's display screen will show the current color of the upcoming light and a countdown to its next change. It will also -- and this is the really nice part -- advise the driver whether to prepare for stopping or not, based on her car's current position and speed.

To help keep drivers' eyes on the road, the app offers audio alerts that signal pending changes. And if there's a dedicated turning lane at the next intersection and a driver has her turn signal on, EnLighten will give data for the turning light rather than the main one.

Of course, there are a couple of caveats. For starters, EnLighten is only available on iOS, so to use it in your car, you'll need to have an iPhone. (Sorry, Android fans.) You'll also need to be driving a BMW that's equipped with the BMW Apps option.

Far more limiting is the fact that you'll also need to be traveling in a city that hosts an integrated network of smart traffic signals. At the moment, there are exactly three cities in America: Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Salt Lake City, Utah. BMW says that more cities will follow, though since that's dependent on municipal spending, it probably won't happen tomorrow. 

That said, the concept seems like a great one, and thanks to the growing Internet of Things, it's probably just a matter of time until most major cities get with the program. As they do, we expect to see more apps like this, available to users on a broad range of vehicles. 

EnLighten is part of the first wave of the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) revolution. Hopefully, it'll help save drivers some fuel (by avoiding unnecessary acceleration) and frustration (by sitting at red lights). We like the sound of that -- so long as people don't use apps like these as an excuse to gun for green lights, putting other motorists and pedestrians in danger. Sadly, we have a hunch some will.

You can download the EnLighten app in the App Store


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