Microsoft’s Bing Maps takes on Google’s Maps Navigation, Volvo Construction Equipment adds on CareTrack, and more…

Microsoft’s Bing Maps takes on Google’s Maps Navigation, Volvo Construction Equipment adds on CareTrack, and more…

The new Bing Maps also includes a free voice-enabled search app that allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel while using their voice to access maps, driving directions, and traffic information. “We’re in a unique position at Microsoft,” wrote Stefan Weitz, Bing director, in an article published on Microsoft’s website. “Our talent in Microsoft Research, Microsoft Live Labs, and our core engineering teams really combine to be more than the sum of their parts to deliver experiences that better map to what people are doing.”

The new voice-enabled search app is powered by Microsoft’s Tellme subsidiary, which also provides the voice technology for Ford’s SYNC service. The free Bing application will compete with Google’s Maps Navigation, also currently in Beta, along with the dozens of GPS products from TomTom, Garmin, and others. One key difference with the Microsoft voice-enabled search app is that users receive visual responses to their questions, rather than audio responses as is the case with the Ford Sync service. Alcatel-Lucent unveiled its new Application Exposure Suite, which enables service providers to open up their networks to application developers and content providers in a safe, controlled environment. The idea is to harness the speed and creativity of Web 2.0 to enhance networks with new applications, while not jeopardizing the security of those networks. With Application Exposure Suite, service providers allow developers easy access to subscriber information, like billing, location, or connection optimization, so that applications are better tailored to subscriber need and interest.

Cinterion Wireless Modules and Deutsche Telekom announced a partnership to collaboratively manage machine-to-machine (M2M) customer projects and support the sustainable development of the M2M marketplace. Cinterion Wireless Modules is a worldwide leader in cellular M2M communication. Deutsche Telekom is a leading telecommunications company with a global customer base of more than 148 million. The partnership will strengthen both companies’ commitment to common product offerings and business development.

Global shipments of automotive telematics systems will rise to 84.4 million units in 2016, according to a new forecast by consumer-electronic analysts iSuppli. The 84.4 million figure represents an increase by a factor of four from the 19.3 million automotive telematics systems shipped in 2008. By 2016, the forecast says, 68.4 millions cars will ship with telematics systems already installed, compared to 14.3 million in 2008.

TeleCommunication Systems acquired Networks in Motion, the company that provides Verizon’s VZ Navigator GPS app. TeleCommunication Systems will pay $170 million for the acquisition. VZ Navigator, along with Networks in Motion’s other services for MetroPCS, TELUS, and Virgin Mobile, is a $9.99 monthly service that allows users to gather GPS information and directions through their cell phone providers, rather than pay $100 to $150 for a GPS device from TomTom or Garmin.

General Motors announced plans to build more than 500 charging stations in California for their 2011 Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle. GM will partner with four California utility companies to build the stations. The Chevy Volt gets 80 miles on a single charge thanks to a lithium-ion battery pack. GM expects to sell upwards of 10,000 Volts through the 2011 model year. Finally, Volvo announced that its Construction Equipment wing will equip all of its general purpose machines, like wheel loaders, articulated haulers, excavators, and motor graders, with standard CareTrack telematics. CareTrack allows users to optimize a machine’s productivity and availability for work by tracking its fuel consumption, location, hours of operation, speed, and approaching service intervals. “This move is a statement to our customers that telematics are becoming a ‘must have’ for ongoing competitiveness in their business—and we are committed to their success,” says Tomas Kuta, president of customer support for Volvo Construction Equipment. “Soon, the value of CareTrack will be as self evident as other industry technologies like GPS grade control – and our customers will be among the first to wonder how they managed without it.”

CareTrack uses a combination of a Guided Diagnostic System and a machine tracking information system called MATRIS to closely monitor fault reporting, activity warnings, and remote diagnosis. Plus, thanks to the service’s satellite technology, data is available securely and instantaneously to any remote online connection. “Every segment we participate in is being driven toward increasingly sophisticated business approaches by the combined influences of environmental and safety concerns, globalized economies, and ever more demanding end customers,” says Kuta. “Higher adoption levels of telematics and the services that can be delivered using the technology will enable our dealers to more effectively tailor and deliver solutions for our customers.”

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