ITALY: Fiat and Microsoft to launch ‘Blue&Me'
Fiat and Microsoft will launch the 'Blue&Me' telematics interface, based on Windows Mobile for Automotive, at the 2006 Geneva Show.
It says that the new system will provide Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Commercial Vehicle drivers with 'the ultimate in-car communications and entertainment system'.
This is the first product to follow the formation of a long-term strategic industrial partnership between Microsoft and Fiat Auto, (signed in July 2004), with the objective of co-designing innovative automotive telematics systems.
According to Fiat, Blue&Me represents a complete redefinition of in-car communication, infotainment and entertainment systems. The company says it is an all-new system, easy to use, accessible and price competitive, that will make car journeys both safer and more comfortable.
The system will become available exclusively on new Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars as well as on Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles. Grande Punto, Alfa Romeo 159, 159 Sportwagon, Brera and Spider will be equipped with this system from mid-2006, followed by the other models in Fiat Auto's product range.
Fiat Auto's Blue&Me, based on Windows Mobile for Automotive, relies on an open system which it is claimed is always up-to-date, upgradeable, and flexible. It is content modular, and can be matched with a wide service offer.
Fiat Auto and Microsoft - with the support of Magneti Marelli - will offer a platform that can be adapted to most mobile phones, digital media players and other mobile systems. The customer is free to change them with new models without compromising compatibility with the car.
The voice-activated system, and complete integration of steering wheel controls and information on the dashboard display, will allow users to utilise any Bluetooth-based mobile phone - even if it is in a pocket or handbag - without removing hands from the steering wheel.
No preliminary voice training is needed, and even incoming SMS messages are read aloud to the driver.
Among audio functions, it is possible to listen to music stored on a mobile phone, in the newest 'smart' phones, and in MP3 readers or USB removable sticks. All this thanks to a USB port, located in the glovebox, which enables the connection to any digital system with the corresponding port.
A further short-term evolution will offer a particularly simple and interactive navigation system, and access to a set of services among which are a personal assistant to check addresses, weather and traffic forecasts, satellite localisation in case of theft, SOS, and other services currently under development.