Automakers bring connectivity to the driver’s seat.
Previously celebrated features like Bluetooth wireless technology and GPS navigation systems have become old hat. Automakers and aftermarket manufacturers have been scrambling to develop the next big thing, a fully interactive driver experience that marries connectivity, entertainment and practicality while also paying mind to safety considerations. Here are three picks from some of the hottest in-vehicle technologies that were unveiled at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a leading global showcase for all things tech.
Toyota Entune is the Japanese carmaker’s promising multimedia infotainment system that will be available as an option in select models this year, starting in the United States. Entune uses a mobile phone to create an interactive experience that is driven by voice commands and in-vehicle touch controls, enabling you to keep your eyes on the road rather than the phone. After downloading the Entune mobile app to a Bluetooth-paired phone, the user has instant access to a variety of useful applications, such as Bing navigation and Internet or satellite radio. Entune also boasts location-based services, such as real-time traffic reports, fuel prices, stock prices, weather and sports scores.
The idea of social networking behind the wheel might sound a little scary, but you knew it was only a matter of time. Enter the Aha Radio Mobile App from electronics manufacturer Pioneer, which links your Apple iPhone to an in-dash Pioneer GPS navigation head unit. Once connected, drivers can listen to Facebook and Twitter updates via text-to-speech technology, a feature that is activated via voice commands for added safety. When you’re tired of tweeting, the Aha Radio app lets you tune into podcasts, RSS feeds and Internet radio. The first two Aha Radio-equipped in-dash units will be available in March, starting at $800.
With the launch of the 2012 Ford Focus, the automaker is commencing the global rollout of MyFord Touch, its integrated navigation and entertainment system. MyFord Touch displays information using two 4.2-inch color LCD screens on the driver instrument panel along with an 8-inch touch screen built into the dashboard. The driver controls everything through a combination of touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons and voice commands. MyFord Touch is integrated with and expands the capabilities of SYNC, the Microsoft-powered infotainment system introduced by Ford in 2007. Features include voice-activated climate control, access to advanced smart-phone features, interactive navigation, HD and satellite radio, and SYNC apps for news, weather and sports. Throughout the Americas, MyFord Touch includes Eco-Route, an application that calculates the most fuel-efficient route for your journey.
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