Is old-school Airstream finally embracing smart home technology?

Like roadside diners, cross-country family vacations, and retro-rockets, the Airstream camping trailer always seemed like a throwback to the halcyon days of 1950s America. But some recent changes to the classic trailer finds Airstream embracing smart home technology that might just turn the vintage trailers into modern classics.

The first clue came earlier this year when the company rolled out its new Nest camping trailer, a $46,000 mini-trailer that costs less than half of one of the company’s Classic models and ditched Airstream’s aluminum design for one that features lighter and stronger fiberglass.

The Nest version of Airstream’s camper even comes with Bluetooth-controlled LED lights that can change color and pulsate with music. It’s a tight squeeze but with its full-sized bedroom, kitchenette and shower, it’s a cozy camper for tight-knit couples or artists looking for space to create.

More tellingly, last month Airstream rolled out a partial smart home solution for all of its 2019 Airstream Classic trailers, including the option for unlimited data and a retrofit conversion for data access for older trailers. It’s a move that reflects Airstream founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements.”

The new feature is called “Airstream Smart Control,” and includes a smartphone app, Airstream Connected, that can set the indoor temperature and control vent fans, turn interior and exterior lights on and off, and extend or retract the camper’s awning. The new addition also enables remote monitoring of several key RV features including checking the propane and water levels as well as battery voltage. Finally, for those intrepid campers who are not only prone to exhilarating hikes but also getting themselves lost in the woods, the app can help them locate their RV via GPS in a pinch. The new features will come standard on all 2019 Classic models, which start at $150,000.

“Airstream owners have long been bringing digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) into their trailers, often in very creative ways,”  Airstream Vice President of Product Development and Engineering McKay Featherstone said in a statement. “So, it’s no surprise they embrace the idea of a smart trailer, a recreational vehicle that allows them to adventure with all the digital comforts and connectivity of home.”

A high-gain, roof-mounted antenna boosts Wi-Fi and cellular signals for greater connectivity but Airstream has also partnered with AT&T to make sure its happy campers can stay connected no matter how far they go. Each Classic trailer includes an AT&T modem with dedicated 4G LTE data — each new Airstream trailer includes a year of free data. After that term expires, Airstream owners can pay $25 a month, or can also pay $360 a year for unlimited data.

For those who want to feel a little better prepared to embrace the life of the digital nomad, the Airstream Connected app will even help you prepare for your trip with checklists to make sure you have what you need.

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