Chris Price was invited to London’s Battersea Park to check out Vodafone’s latest hi-tech Connected Campervan and now he wants one in time for the summer!
From a distance it may look like any ordinary campervan. But take a closer look and you’ll find it is stuffed to the the gills with the latest smart technology usually only confined to conventional homes.
It’s all the work of Vodafone Germany employee Dirk Ellenbeck who bought the campervan for himself and his family – including wife Silke and dog Hazel, pictured above – around two years ago. The family love travelling, especially in Northern Europe, but wanted all the latest creature comforts as well as on board security features.
“Security is a real problem for campervans, especially in Germany where many get broken into,” Dirk told ShinyShiny. Indeed many disappear altogether with a survey from the AMI Group showing that only 3% of stolen caravans and motorhomes are ever recovered.
Safe as houses
As a result, this Adria Matrix motorhome, which would normally set you back around £60,000 if you were buying it without all the bells and whistles, has been fitted with a wealth of security features. Onboard is Vodafone’s V-Auto autotracker which, if the vehicle is stolen, will alert you via your smartphone to its whereabouts and will even allow you to switch off the engine remotely.
What’s more, the technology can also be used to monitor all of your journeys, providing tips on how to drive more efficiently and plan quicker routes in the future (see box out below)!
Unlike most campervans that usually have separate keys for each part of the vehicle – including driving cabin, living quarters and storage sections – this one can be locked and unlocked remotely via a smartphone.
There’s also plenty of onboard security cameras including a Netgear Arlo Go camera that connects to the Vodafone network with a V-Sim rather than WiFi. This allows Dirk to get alerts to his smartphone if the camera detects any movement or if he simply wants to see what their dog is getting up to while they are off sightseeing or enjoying a meal out. “There are times where we have to leave her alone in the motorhome if we are visiting places that don’t allow dogs,” explains Dirk.
Movies on the move
Of course, security features aren’t the only gadgets on board. Travelling in comfort also means keeping cool – especially important on those occasions where the dog is left alone on board.
Fitted into the roof of the campervan above the comfy looking double bed is an air-conditioning system from Truma which allows Dirk to monitor the temperature of the motorhome remotely while solar panels on the roof are used to power the various onboard systems.
This includes a flatscreen TV with built in Amazon Firestick which is connected to a wireless Vodafone Gigacube wireless router so that Dirk and his wife can stream video content from services such as Netflix. “It’s a much simpler solution than having to install a satellite dish or TV aerial every time you stop,” says Dirk.
Finally, perhaps the most impressive piece of tech – and certainly the most expensive – is the Goldschmitt hydraulic levelling system. Traditionally, if you wanted your campervan to be completely flat so things don’t roll around (and so you can lie flat in bed) then you would need to spend a lot of time and effort with levelling blocks and a spirit level. Now all you need is a hydraulic levelling system and a smartphone to control it such as the one installed on this campervan. You can see how the levelling system works here.
No doubt some hardened campervan owners will look back to the days before such technology existed with fond memories. But for the rest of us having a few creature comforts to make life easier as we travel around makes all the difference!
Key technology inside the Connected Campervan
V-Auto Car Tracker
£85 (£4 per month V-Auto service fee)
V-Auto by Vodafone is a tracker (connected to your smartphone via a V-SIM), which allows you to pinpoint exactly where your caravan or car is – whether it’s parked or on the move. Designed to provide peace of mind, the V-Auto also collates information on all of your routes, how long each journey took and even provides tips on how to drive more safely and efficiently – helping you plan quicker routes in the future. Customers can also pause their subscription at any time if they wish to take a break.
V-Home Safety Starter Kit
£99 (plus £14 per month service fee)
V-Home allows you to monitor your caravan wherever you are through your smartphone thanks to a Smart Camera with motion detection and infra-red capability for night-time viewing. It also detects if a window or door is opened unexpectedly and has a Siren alarm to deter potential intruders. You can also add on other V-Home kits and compatible devices, such as the V-Home Detection Kit – which will alert you to everything from smoke and a suspected water leak to a sudden change in temperature – and the V-Home Automation Kit, which allows you to control lights, heating and a range of other appliances remotely.
£339 (plus £4 per month service fee)
Netgear Arlo Go connects to the Vodafone network with a V-Sim sending customisable alerts straight to your smartphone, tablet or email whenever it detects movement. Its weatherproof design and night vision functionality let you keep a close eye on whatever matters most to you, both inside and outside your campervan.
V-Pet Tracker Pod 3
£105 (plus £4 per month service fee)
The new V-Pet Tracker Pod 3, from the V by Vodafone range, means you will always know where your pet is. This WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS tracker allow you to set up ‘Safe Zones’ and will alert you if your pet goes somewhere it shouldn’t! Using the ‘adventure recording’ facility, you can also monitor your pet’s run through the park or night-time activity on your smartphone. You can even check whether your pet is getting enough exercise and rest using the 24/7 activity monitor.