Volvo develops "Concept You" Weekly Brief—10.10.11

Volvo develops "Concept You" Weekly Brief—10.10.11

In this week's Brief: Toyota, Microsoft, Pandora, Mazda, Orion Innovations, BMW and Volvo

Toyota and Microsoft announced plans to bring next-generation telematics services to emerging markets around the world. The joint endeavor will combine Toyota telematics technologies with Microsoft’s global cloud platform and information infrastructure.

The first rollout will be in Thailand in March 2012, where services will include navigation, traffic re-routing, and emergency notification for electric vehicles and hybrid plug-ins.

These services will be designed for use with smartphones but will also be accessible by linking a smartphone and an onboard Audio Display system, making the services easily accessible inside and outside of the vehicle.

On the infotainment front, Toyota said it will offer embedded versions of Pandora, the personalized radio service operator, on the 2012 Camry and 2012 Tacoma.

Pandora and Toyota announced a partnership at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but details of which Toyota vehicles the service would receive the radio boost were veiled until this week.

Pandora will interface with the Toyota Entune technology. The Camry and the Tacoma are the top-selling car and compact truck in the US, respectively.

Mazda released a new iPhone App, “MyMazda,” which delivers real-time information to drivers, as well as service offers personalized to their vehicles, scheduled maintenance reminders, and factory maintenance schedules.

The app also features a Mazda dealer locator and easy access for appointment scheduling. MyMazda is free of charge and is available to download from the Apple App Store.

Orion Innovations introduced Signal-Safe, a wireless technology that aims to discourage professional drivers from using cell phones while driving. The technology is deployed when the ignition switch is in the "on" position and the vehicle is in motion.

It continually monitors and logs a data report for cell phone use to the black box in the truck, bus, or van, allowing fleet managers to know when and how often their drivers are on mobile devices.

BMW will beef up development capacity for in-vehicle apps at its three AppCenters in Munich, Shanghai, and Mountain View, California. The Centers will work in tandem to research and develop cutting-edge apps that streamline the driving experience and improve safety.

One new focus will be on third-party apps that can be integrated into BMW and MINI vehicles.

BMW also highlighted a number of projects that surfaced from its BMW Innovation Days 2011. One project already tested in a vehicle is a personal butler named the “Infotainment Assistant,” who creates a personalized entertainment and information portfolio and offers recommendations depending on the situation.

Another project is augmented reality delivered to the vehicle by way of a Head-Up Display. The display projects augmented images and tags onto reality, seamlessly laying them over objects so that drivers can digest information without taking their eyes off the road.

Volvo offered further insights into its new suite of intuitive technologies named “Concept You,” which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The technologies attune the cockpit of a vehicle to its driver.

The steering wheel has aluminum paddles linked to touch-screens. The center console remains in sleeping mode until the driver looks at it. A hidden infrared camera registers the eye movements and information is displayed on the screen.

Another sensor registers hand movements and triggers the infotainment system's control mode, which knows if the screen is approached by the driver or by the front passenger.

“Smart phones and smart pads have brought mobile infotainment into a new era,” says Peter Horbury, vice president of design at Volvo.

“Here, we use a number of touch-screens to replace buttons and controls in order to make the driver totally connected, totally in control.”

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