Fall into Mercedes-Benz’s mbrace, Alcatel-Lucent’s ng connected car program, and more…

Fall into Mercedes-Benz’s mbrace, Alcatel-Lucent’s ng connected car program, and more…

The platform, called mbrace, allows drivers to personalize traffic and weather reports, to consult a real-life agent 24-7, and to lock and unlock vehicles with an iPhone or Blackberry from anywhere in the world. “Let’s say you fly off to a meeting in London,” says Kevin Link, vice president of marketing at Hughes Telematics, “and when you get there, you can’t remember if you locked your car back in Atlanta. Well, with mbrace you can pull out your iPhone, hit a button, and bing, the phone comes back with a confirmation code a moment later that you’ve locked your car. Additionally, we’ll send an email to confirm it.”

Another mbrace feature allows drivers to locate their cars, say, in a crowded parking lot with step-by-step directions. Starting Monday, the platform will be available in all new Mercedes-Benz vehicles sold in the US, and current owners will be able to upgrade. The platform replaces Tele Aid, the telematics system that Mercedes-Benz US has offered for the past 10 years.

A new study from market researcher iSuppli predicts an increasing emphasis in the auto industry on telematics in the years ahead. Specifically, iSuppli forecasts that the compound growth rate for telematics units produced by auto companies in Western Europe will be 22.5 percent per year through 2016. Companies likely to exhibit such growth, according to the study, include General Motors (Opel, Vauxhall, and Saab), Volkswagen, Ford, and Fiat. New research from the market research firm IDC reveals that smartphone sales and shipments continue to soar, despite the global recession. Shipments of iPhones, Blackberrys, and other mobile devices rose 4.2 percent globally in the third quarter, making the trend in telematics toward mobile platforms likely to continue.

M2 Europe has partnered with fleet technology company Airmax Group to introduce a new corporate credit card, the Airmax Scope Prepaid MasterCard. The credit card provides comprehensive online fuel and expense management by combining vehicle data information with detailed payment reporting. The card is geared toward fleet companies that currently use a mix of fuel cards, credit cards, and reimbursement schemes to manage their finances. The Airmax Scope MasterCard combines all three into one.

Seattle-based INRIX, which provides real-time traffic information, announced partnerships with NAVIGON and Motorola. INRIX traffic services will now be a part of all NAVIGON smartphone applications in Europe and the US, and part of Motorola’s new Milestone Android-based smartphone, to be released this month. INRIX is active in 14 countries, including the US and most of Europe, and provides traffic info by way of GPS probe data collected by some 400,000 vehicles and devices.

TeleCommunciation Systems, a leader of mission-critical wireless data solutions, acquired Sidereal Solutions Inc., a satellite support service company that TCS has partnered with since 2007. United Technologies Corp. acquired GE’s electronic security systems operations, a move that will increase United Tech’s presence in North America and make it a significant company in the global fire and security industry.

Finally, Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect Program announced its first so-called “LTE Connected Car,” a concept car that demonstrates how the latest LTE broadband access technology can combine with an in-vehicle WiFi environment to create a fully integrated automotive experience, essentially turning cars “into the next mobile device,” says Steve West, senior director of Alcatel-Lucent’s emerging technology and media group. “It is in a sense like a smartphone but completely tailored and augmented for the automotive environment,” he continues. “You will be able to entertain passengers, get work done, and communicate broadly through the car because of the capability contained in-vehicle and in the ‘cloud’ or network.”

The first car to exhibit such functionality is the 2010 Toyota Prius; that is, in theory. When the car will be available with all the 4G/WiFi bells and whistles remains unclear, as automotive manufacturers and network providers are still being aligned. “The intent of the solutions concept is to help accelerate the time to market by working collectively,” says West, “not only on the technology integration but also to collaborate on the business models and value chains that need to exist to make this a reality. The ng Connect Program is helping to pave the way. Network trial of LTE will begin in earnest in 2010, with mass deployment coming on stream in the following years.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *