Audi, Daimler infotainment systems explore connectivity at CES
January 13, 2012 // Christoph Hammerschmidt
Cars are increasingly changing their character — from a motorized vehicle with a few electronic components to a giant mobile universal device with a set of wheels. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, vehicle manufacturers Audi and Daimler have confirmed this mutation process by highlighting their latest developments.
A complete report on the topic certainly would go beyond the scope of this article. However, in particular, one factor in this scenario is networking. Carmakers have worked on their vision of the "connected car" for some years, now this picture gets clearer. Audi, for instance, announced that it will equip their vehicles with the future wireless broadband standard LTE. Daimler went a step further, announcing what it called a "declaration of independence". The independence, clearly, referred to the availability of information "everywhere and at all times" for users of their four-wheeled mobile devices — but also to new control concepts for the infotainment systems. "Precisely at the interfaces between communications and mobility, vast potential for innovation lies dormant, and we intend to tap it", said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche at the show.
To give future car users an impression of this concept, the company demonstrated its telematics strategy @yourCOMMAND. Elements are holistic experience, natural interaction, sensory perfection, and convenient remote control. To be more specific: the entire windshield turns into a head-up display, the dashboard into a display band, presenting information about the vehicle surroundings — including actual pedestrians and vehicles as well as virtual points of interests and the location of friends from social networks. All these elements are interlinked in a combination of augmented reality and natural gesture control; the data comes from car-to-x communications as well as from all other sources of electronic information from the web, social networks, smart infrastructures and more.
Another highlight in Daimler's CES presence is the COMAND Online internet access and application platform already introduced in Europe. Among the functions implemented as apps are Google Local Search, Street View, and Facebook.
Audi's infotainment innovations have been announced with a more sober approach. Nevertheless the company's exhibits do not lag behind their counterparts from Daimler. For instance, the company shows the Audi Phone Box, a connectivity unit that integrates any mobile phone into the car, utilizing it as a modem for 3G and 4G networks. Similar to Daimler, Mobile Apps are integrated into the carmaker's HMI. The voice control system embraces Google Voice POI search. Audi's HMI enables users to control the infotainment functions at three levels. Besides the voice control, these are the conventional the push-and-rotary switch and the MMI touch pad.
The next innovations down on Audi's roadmap will be seamless integration with cloud-based media servers. Thus, drivers and passengers can access their sound and video library from anywhere, even though the data are stored on a central server. Another future highlight: the company is developing smartphone apps that enable car users to configure their vehicles remotely. This feature will be most relevant to future electric vehicles, Audi says.
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