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Want Siri Eyes Free integration now? Get MediaBridge

A $299 aftermarket kit enables many vehicles to integrate Siri with the electronics system using steering wheel controls.


Even if you don't plan on buying a new car any time soon to take advantage of Apple's upcoming Eyes Free feature, you may still be able to get Siri in your car. Aftermarket electronics supplier Dice Electronics says that its MediaBridge component already has the capability to integrate Siri with some vehicles' electronics systems.

MediaBridge is a plug-and-play Bluetooth-enabled hardware "black box" that integrates Apple products with the vehicle's existing head unit. The device adds Bluetooth and streaming to the audio system, and in some cars, lets you access Siri with steering wheel controls.

Dice debuted MediaBridge early last year at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. As an automotive developer partner with Apple, the company began Siri integration with the release of iOS 4. When Apple launched the iPhone 4S, Dice engineers started quietly testing this feature with select customers in a beta program, said Dice Vice President Stephen Witt in an interview. The company decided to go public with its Siri integration after Apple announced the Eyes Free feature last week.

MediaBridge works with more than 1,000 models on the road today, including many BMW, Mini, VW, Audi, Bentley, Nissan, Infiniti, Honda, Accura, Toyota, Scion, Lexus, and Mazda vehicles. Dice hosts a tool on its Web site that potential customers can use to determine if MediaBridge will work on their cars. Ironically, many vehicles with the highest-end audio and navigation systems probably won't work with this component. However, Witt says that MediaBridge is 100 percent compatible with model year 2003 and newer BMW, Mini, and Audi cars equipped with voice-command buttons on the steering wheel.

With MediaBridge fully integrated in a car, drivers have the ability to launch Siri without taking their eyes off the road or touching their iPhones.

MediaBridge is equipped with a Bluetooth circuit that cancels echos, tunes out background noise, and optimizes voice. It's not perfect, Witt concedes, but it's at least as good or in some cases better than holding the phone to your mouth to make requests. He explained that many iPhone 4S users overload Siri by holding the device too close to their mouths, which makes their commands unintelligible. For other vehicles that aren't 100 percent compatible or aren't equipped with steering wheel controls, Witt recommends using an inexpensive cradle to put the iPhone within easy reach to launch Siri.

MediaBridge is available for $299 and is typically installed in the glove compartment or behind the center stack console. If you've already purchased the product but haven't updated the firmware in a while, you'd better get on it if you want Siri integration.

(Via: CE Outlook)