Microsoft, Fiat, and a tech named Blue

At the 2007 Geneva Auto Show, Fiat introduces a GPS antenna and a cell phone chip to a Microsoft-powered infotainment platform called Blue and Me.

The Microsoft logo appears on the Fiat's steering wheel
The Microsoft logo appears on the Fiat's steering wheel CNET Networks

Last year, Fiat showed off a new Microsoft-powered technology called Blue and Me that let people play music from USB keys and connect their Bluetooth cell phones to their Fiat cars.

This year, at the 2007 Geneva auto show, Fiat takes the tech a step further, adding a GPS antenna and a cell phone chip. The GPS antenna means you can also load maps onto your USB key that car will use to provide route guidance. And the cell phone chip gives the car some standard features similar to OnStar, such as an SOS button that will send an alert, along with GPS coordinates for the car, to an emergency service.

The Fiat Brava, in which I saw this new tech demonstrated, didn't have an LCD in the dash. Instead, route guidance was shown by simple graphics and text, indicating upcoming turns.

When you buy a Fiat with Blue and Me, you will be given a CD with maps of Europe. You can then load the maps of various countries on to a USB key and use them in the car.

Simple route guidance on the instrument cluster.
Simple route guidance on the instrument cluster. CNET Networks
The really remarkable thing about this new version of Blue and Me is that it's a 499 Euro option (in the ballpark of 650 U.S. dollars), making it the cheapest navigation, Bluetooth, and digital music option around.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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