What Harley-Davidson and Your Smartphone Have in Common

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Nothing sounds like a Harley-Davidson. People can hear this iconic motorcycle when it rolls down the street well before they can actually see it. It may not be the most high-tech ride on the road, but it is certainly an American classic.

Would it matter if that sound went away, replaced by an electric motor and a phone app connected to the Cloud? Well, Harley-Davidson is betting that its future riders will find those features attractive enough to forego the loud rumble that has attracted so many motorcycle enthusiasts in the past.

IBM and Panasonic are betting alongside them.

This fall, green motorcycle riders will be able to buy the LiveWire, Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle. It is the kind of motorcycle that was able to get a review in Wired magazine—not a typical place to review the latest bike. There is no clutch and no gear shifting—just twist and go—but with that twist, it will certainly go: from 0 to 60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. Power is hardly a problem.

The LiveWire will also feature H-D Connect, allowing riders to connect their smartphones to their motorcycle via an app. Power, security, and service data will be stored in the IBM Cloud and communicated securely to the app.

FutureCar reports that “Panasonic’s OneConnect will provide a link to the motorcycle through a cellular connection to the telematics control unit.”

Among the information they will have available to them, riders will be able to know how far they can ride before having to recharge, service and care reminders, and security information. If an owner’s motorcycle is unplugged or stolen, he or she will be alerted immediately.

The fact that IBM and Panasonic have both chosen to team up with Harley-Davidson shows the degree of optimism that there are motorcycle riders—even Harley-Davidson enthusiasts—who will be excited about having an electric motorcycle connected to the Cloud. This is certainly a large leap into the future by a major motorcycle manufacturer. Whether or not the LiveWire is a hit, the fact remains that the future is electric. This Fall, motorcycle riders will have a change to ride a truly futuristic bike.

And let’s face it: as the world moves more and more toward being interconnected through the Internet of Things (IoT), there is perhaps nothing cooler than having your IoT thing be a Harley-Davidson.

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