Nokia and in-car entertainment company Harman have said they intend to develop a smartphone-to-car interface that could pass information back and forth between the two computing systems.

Neither company revealed a timetable to complete development. They indicated that the physical connnection would be made via a USB cord, with Bluetooth as a backup for short-range trips.

In addition to providing the full range of smartphone features, services and applications through the high resolution screens and audio systems embedded in the car, the connection also supports information exchange between the smartphone and the car; and information retrieval through GPS functionality.

Hence, location based services could be enabled by combining GPS information from the smartphone or car with key vehicle data such as low oil or fuel warnings – in this case the nearest garage or service station would be sourced and displayed with the option to navigate directly there. Hotel or parking searches, for example, could be backed up with details of availability and pricing and, where appropriate, booked online or by telephone. In addition, advanced driver assistance safety features may also be supported, for example, to warn drivers to slow down for a sharp bend or to indicate when it is safe to overtake the vehicle in front.

“Beside our well equipped infotainment systems, standardised interface solutions between Smartphones & Car Infotainment will provide a rich set of additional applications and are particularly interesting for Entry- and Mid-Level Infotainment Systems to allow best connectivity via the head unit for attractive use of smartphone functionality in vehicle applications,” said Hans Roth, Director Global Business Development & Marketing, Harman Automotive Division.

“We are happy to be involved in creating an industry standard to connect smartphones to in-car systems. It is a totally logical step and we believe this standard will fuel the creation of innovative new services for drivers,” said Vesa Luiro, Director, Automotive, Nokia.

“The infotainment system of a modern car is a natural extension for the capabilities of smartphones. Not only will it simplify the use of turn-by-turn voice guidance from Ovi Maps, but also provide a new and easy way of accessing other content on the smartphone, such as music and delivering automotive specific applications from the Ovi Store.”

The smartphone display is copied on the larger, infotainment system screen and commands can be given either by voice, touch or traditional in car controls to enable ease of use.

For short journeys and convenience, wireless connection can be made by Bluetooth however for more stable, longer periods of use, the USB alternative will provide faster connection and refresh rates and preserve the smartphone battery.