Audi recently partnered with Alcatel-Lucent to show off the potential of a prototype broadband LTE version of the Audi Connect infotainment system; the A8 test vehicle boasted impressive data-transfer rates of up to 100 megabits per second. Audi's production Connect system is capable of 7.2-mbps in-vehicle speeds, and 2012 models with Connect are considered the first production Web-connected vehicles. Through a partnership with T-Mobile, this SIM-card-activated service-plan system features navigation and weather/news/gas-price travel services that stay up-to-date with a built-in cellular data connection, and its integrated Wi-Fi can connect up to eight devices.
But Audi is not resting on its laurels: Anu Pom Malhotra, Audi's connected vehicle strategist, has big ideas for the future. "We recognize that our customers want an enriched experience, and our technology could [eventually] enhance the Connect system up to hundreds of mbps," Malhotra says. "I see the future consumption of data through methods more along the lines of streaming, as opposed to bit-by-bit. Info could be exchanged by devices in the vehicle, between the cloud, and even between the infrastructure and other vehicles--that info exchange between traffic would improve the ability to manage travel time."
Cadillac's CUE System
CUE, which stands for Cadillac User Experience, is a combined infotainment, navigation, and communication system that's easy to use. It enables users to connect up to ten Bluetooth mobile devices--its Bluetooth Audio Streaming AVRCP 1.4 supports wireless browsing of media players--and it features two USB ports and an SD Card slot, too. CUE dazzles with a four-button design, a display offering haptic feedback and proximity sensing, and OnStar integration. And CUE's smartphone connectivity is a good example of how manufacturers are bridging the gap between today's "smartphone 4G" and tomorrow's true mobile broadband.
"We are leveraging smartphones, but if you look at that 4G space, some of the phones that are on market are data-only solutions right now," says Tim Nixon, executive director and global functional leader of GM's Infotainment and OnStar groups. "What we want to do is an all-inclusive platform with voice and data. Once you start talking 20-plus mbps, some very interesting discussions about cloud-based services happen. Sometime down the road--not too far away--we want to grow and expand this platform," Nixon says.
Speaking of expanding the platform, Nixon and his team are already sitting on an information gold mine.