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Chicago Auto Show Blog

Have we reached technology overload yet?

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Not by a long shot--at least in the automotive world. This past week, two automakers announced in-car entertainment systems that offer integration with Smart Phone apps. What is the world coming too? Isn't it bad enough when people thumb through their iPhone at a business lunch or check Emails on their Blackberry at the ball game? Now people will be able to do those same tasks while driving and never take their hands off the wheel.

Took me a while to figure this out, but it's a logical extension of current technology in an automotive application. It means automakers have figured out how to make the automobile an extension of your Smart Phone, opening the door for an unlimited number of enhancements to in-vehicle entertainment and utility.

The two automakers, MINI and Ford, will be offering similar voice-controlled systems in the very near future that utilize the capabilities of a Smart Phone to exponentially expand what you can do behind the wheel. The first integrations are with fairly simple apps (small programs that run on Smart Phones) that allow vehicle occupants to post comments to social applications like Facebook and Twitter or stream Web content to your vehicle's entertainment system.

What's interesting about this approach is that automakers have realized that the opportunities are endless and shouldn't be limited to what we traditionally think a vehicle entertainment system should do--play music or video or even provide directions. Using a Smart Phone as a conduit, the number of applications is limitless and the connection to the Internet is simple.

Imagine you're going out for the night. You get into your car and call up an app that helps you pick a Thai restaurant that is highly rated on Google. Then you download directions directly to the vehicle's navigation system. These directions not only provide the quickest route, but also help you avoid traffic delays. On the way, you make reservations for dinner and buy tickets to a movie over the Internet. As you get close to the restaurant, you are able to search for the least expensive parking in the area. Not once in this process have you had to take your hands off the wheel to push a button or click a mouse.

That's technology that's working for you . . . I think.

SOURCE: Ford's SYNC Applink, MINI's Connected

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