No longer will road-warrior salespeople have to hunt down a WiFi hotspot or finagle a laptop connection into their car for on-the-go Internet access. BMW has come to the rescue with an evolution of its ConnectedDrive technology that allows unrestricted Internet use via the car's in-dash display.
Billing the system as the combination of sheer driving pleasure and the joy of surfing, BMW hopes the combination of luxurious mobility and Internet access will attract buyers seeking a premium in-car experience. However, the company hasn't totally lost its grip on reality: as long as the car is moving at speeds greater than 5km/h, Internet surfing is a no-go from the driver's seat. Rear seat passengers can surf to their hearts content in vehicles also outfitted with an option DVD entertainment system that puts displays in the rear of the front-seat headrests. Thankfully the 5km/h limitation seems designed to allow commuters to catch up on their email while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Browsing should be quick with EDGE technology, which is up to four times faster than GPRS. By this point anyone seriously interested in the concept is wondering how they'll navigate the Web while behind the wheel. The answer: BMW's oft-bemoaned iDrive control interface. Entry of URLs and other text is supposedly made easy by software. And if your BMW has multiple drivers, personalized homepages are easily configurable.
The technology will be available to consumers by the end of 2008, but only in Europe. No word yet on if or when the technology will reach other shores. Until then, we'll have to make do with the pre-production version on display at Geneva.