Not to show favorites or anything, but man are we geeking out on Audi right now. The automaker has positioned itself as the leader in automotive electronics, pushing into the connected car frontier with its Audi Connect. Why should you care about this? Because it’s really cool! Check out these highlights from this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) to get a glimpse of exciting new technologies Audi has in store.
Modular Multimedia Interface
As if being a top safety pick for 2012 weren’t enough, Audi’s 2013 model will feature the latest rendition of its modular multimedia interface (MMI). MMI is just a fancy name for the infotainment (yes, it’s a word) system Audi developed, which features a nifty control knob in the center console and a slim, sleek 7-inch touchpad built into the dash.
The MMI integrates Google Earth (including Street View), voice, navigation, and telephone control, as well as traffic info and Google’s POI (point-of-interest) search. You can even playback audio and video using this unit’s processing power (please, just not while you’re driving).
What this means (basically) is that you get the same computing muscle that’s going into today’s cutting-edge tablets and other mobile devices — all in your car. Fancy that.
LTE under the hood
3G is so 2010. So this year, Audi’s raising the bar by introducing 4G technology into the Connect. It could be a while before you can get a taste of this faster form of mobile access, however, as Audi has to wait for carriers to support it.
Still, it’s a pretty cool thing to look forward to.
Word of mouth, connected-car style (aka gossiping cars)
Another technology Audi’s touting is Car-to-X communications, which allows cars to network together and relay important info about road conditions, traffic patterns, and more. So if there’s an unexpected traffic jam coming up in a mile or 2, cars that have already experienced it can share that info with your car, which can then inform you of the upcoming hazard (and possibly plan an alternate route for you).
Paving the way for a safer and smarter driving experience, this is probably as close as we’ll get to driving KIT from Knight Rider.
Head-up display of the future
Some of the gadgetry Audi has in the pipeline might take a driver’s eyes off the road (such as integrated Twitter and Facebook access), but with the head-up display, important navigation and traffic info appears 7 feet out in front of you and in your field of view. And the next generation of this technology will include directional arrows to guide you as you drive, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to look at a navigation screen. This directional arrow can even indicate what direction a road bends when you’re in hilly terrain. Pretty cool, huh?
Audi also has a solution for losing cell reception on the road. Utilizing an external cell antennae, your phone can tap in and boost its signal, all from a little storage unit in the center console. And while this is cool, it also means you can no longer use the “going into a tunnel” excuse when you don’t want to talk to Aunt Meg anymore.
Why we think it’s cool
At Esurance, we like tech. A lot. We also like cars. And though we can’t build a car that talks to you or helps you find the shortest distance between 2 points, we’re always coming up with new ways to make your car insurance cooler (and smarter).
And because there’s nothing smarter than great rates, we’re excited about anything that might make for better drivers and fewer accidents. Though some of Audi’s innovations don’t necessarily contribute to safer driving, others — like Car-to-X and head-up display — do.
So in the interest of safer roads, cooler cars, and (possibly) better rates on car insurance we say, “Well done, Audi. Innovate on!”