BMW Vision Connected Drive
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BMW Vision Connected Drive

Auto Tech
Every once in a great while, you see an amazing concept car at a show like this where the car isn't even the point. It's the whole ethos of how it interacts with the most important component--you. This is BMW's Vision ConnectedDrive Concept. The car is what it is, sliding doors, open top, audacious roadster, doesn't matter. It's the future vision of ConnectedDrive that's so interesting here. First of all, notice the different colors that the exterior trim and light lines turn in different modes. All those regions around the car can change to one of three colors. When it's red, that's driving engagement or safety mode. Odd. I normally think of red as aggressive driver mode but so be it. Blue is for infotainment, green means you're in comfort mode. It tells you, your passenger, and the world around you what state you're driving in. There is what BMW calls an emotional browser in the center stack, through which the passenger can, among other things, send information over to the driver. It also allows the passenger to interact with content vacancy that doesn't distract the driver. Head-up display, BMW's been doing that for a long time but the one envisioned here is 3D with augmented reality. It would overlay visual icons on top of conditions, locations, or what-have-you as you look up and drive. That's cool. Those things where the mirrors should be, not mirrors. Those are antennae and they are used to detect all manner of things, including cars in a blind spot, vehicles that are passing alongside, location of a curve, anything it can possibly pick up, it would, and relay that on to the displays in the car, or on that head-up display. Now, a little more realistic in all this space-age stuff is this concept of really trying to tie together the electronic systems. BMW sees a very near-term time when your smartphone will pair with the car and the calendar, the contacts, and the nav will all integrate so the car may say, you've got an appointment coming up at a certain time, I know where you are, how much time you have to get there, and I'm going to go ahead, look up the address, and then get the guidance preloaded for you and remind you it's time to get going. Okay, enough science fiction. Now, the real deal, just announced by BMW, is a BMW apps platform. Check this out. That's something I know you haven't seen in iDrive before, Facebook, Twitter, and web radio functionality, tethered through an iPhone app suite. Okay, here's my iPhone docked in my BMW cradle right here. There's the actual phone part of this apps platform. BMW connected. I press that. And that's gonna bring up, first of all, a confirmation screen telling me I'm connected. It transfers all of the interface from the phone to the dash. It's safer and it's also a higher performance media interface. You also have some connected driving stats here. I can check my fuel level, see the range I have remaining, distance last update, some other various information about the vehicle can be found in here, again, making the car more of a cohesive connected ecosystem. So check it out. If I go to Facebook, here comes an update screen. This is the client called ConnectedDrive Geneva. If I dropped down to Twitter, here come tweets. Again, they're in German, I'm not gonna rattle those off to you. Text-to-speech to hear those, and I've got web radio here, again, configured through your iPhone app or future other smartphone platforms to plug in the stations you wanna have in there. Built-in wireless internet in the car. That's a European market thing, we've not seen that yet on a BMW, though Audi's A8 is getting there closely. Now, BMW calls this technology BMW Plugin. That's their wrapper, if you will, for Apple's iPod out technology so this is based on a more or less standard system, and if you want, you can drop back to standard iDrive, you don't need to use this but this is looking really good. And as you see, you've also got some other BMW Connected features here for BMW Online Services, even full-on internet access but, again, not in the United States market yet. Now, this is still a bit of a hodgepodge. You've got some e-mail ability supported on BlackBerry in BMW previously. You've got what I've shown you here supported on iOS through iPod out. There's nothing yet on Android. I don't believe any Windows or Windows Phone 7 yet so different bar graph, if you will, of what platform is best embraced on this car. They know they've gotta sort that out but BMW's in an interesting position. A number of recent studies including a survey that CNET did just about a couple of months ago indicate that most car buyers, when they think about a tech-connected car, think BMW. That's in spite of some great work being done by Ford, being done lately by Hyundai, being done by Lexus, being done by Mercedes. These guys have a moment in time to capitalize on their tech image extending into this kind of connected technology.

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