The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has become a de facto auto show. Automakers don't show new cars, per se, but they do highlight their latest in-car technologies. That's what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] did today by showcasing the fourth generation of its Uconnect infotainment system.
The new Uconnect system will arrive in select Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and possibly Fiat vehicles in 2016. The big news is the addition of Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto. These systems integrate your iPhone or Android phone into the infotainment system, allowing drivers to interface with their phones in a familiar way through the center touchscreen. Car Play also allows access to Siri voice commands, while Android Auto is a Google-based system that accesses Google maps, including real-time traffic information, and Google search. Car Play and Android Auto will be available with FCA's Uconnect 8.4 NAV system and select lower-line systems.
Other changes to Uconnect include more processing power, which will enable faster startup times and quicker responses. FCA says the touchscreen will also have improved resolution and brightness, as well as and heightened responsiveness.
FCA has two more displays at CES. One shows a new 12.1-inch touchscreen system for police cars that can integrate a police computer and incorporate a split screen to show information from both the standard Uconnect system and the police computer. The other is a futuristic tech display with FCA's vision for how "personalized driving experiences can seamlessly integrate a vehicle, technology, the environment and people to help drivers achieve Car. Life. Balance."
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The technology concept features community tagging and a follow-me mode, both of which allow the vehicle to share location information with other vehicles on the road in the community. Community tagging detects hazardous road conditions and alerts drivers approaching that location. Follow-me mode lets community members request to follow other vehicles.
The concept explores also predictive technology, vehicle-to-X communications, a workload manager, a privacy mode, an intelligent concierge, and an augmented reality heads-up display. The predictive technology tailors the Uconnect experience to the driver's habits, personal calendar, and personal preferences weighed against traffic patterns. Vehicle-to-X communications allows the car to communicate with other cars and the roadside to help prevent accidents. The workload manager presents prioritized information to the driver during critical driving situations. Privacy mode detects when passengers may be in the vehicle and transfers pertinent information to the instrument cluster. The intelligent concierge can make personalized suggestions to the driver based on preferences. Finally, the augmented reality heads-up display projects blind spot detection, parking assistance, and ice and snow road lane assist information on the windshield.
All of the features FCA is showing at CES point to increased in-car information in the future. We wouldn't be surprised to see the 12.1-inch screen make its way into mainline cars, and many of the features shown in the technology display should be arriving within a few years.
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