Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Internet in the Car--BMW Style

One of the sectors that I spend following, studying and teaching is the automotive sector--especially telematics. There's GM's OnStar and there's Ford's Sync (in partnership with Microsoft). There are also third-party offerings as after-market add-ons like Garmin, TomTom and Dash.
Now BMW has brought true Internet into the automobile with its 'idrive.'

An article in the German Car Scene reports the following:
BMW ConnectedDrive brings the complete World Wide Web into the car on the display, offering more functions all in one go than the driver will usually enjoy on the internet in his office or on his PC at home. This is made possible by the unique BMW iDrive control system activating and masterminding all telecommunication, entertainment, navigation and air conditioning functions via the Controller on the centre console and the centre display in the dashboard.

In using the internet, the BMW iDrive Controller acts in the same way as a conventional computer mouse: Moving the Controller in various directions, the user is able to move the mouse on the internet site shown in the display. Then, pressing the Controller, the user clicks the mouse on the PC to select links or specific items in the menu. By turning the Controller, finally, the user scrolls up and down to the appropriate internet site.

The display presents internet sites in high resolution, an additional function serving to enlarge specific sections on the display by a factor of 1.5 or 2.
The following video provides a high-level overview.

The design details are available in this article. I wonder what the safety implications are since it seems to be accessible from the front seat. Also, it looks like it may be available in Europe first. Will we face regulatory hurdles before we see this in the USA? And from a strategic point of view, what are the implications for GM, Ford and others?

No comments: