Fiat Auto and Microsoft have sealed a long-term strategic automotive partnership to develop innovative telematics solutions for motorists. The two companies’ novel approach of designing in-vehicle telematics systems combines Fiat Auto’s research in telematics services with Microsoft’s standard platforms, services and applications.
The goal of the partnership is to produce telematics systems that will enable drivers to communicate effectively with the outside world. Consumers will be able to integrate their own devices such as cellular phones, Pocket PCs or Windows Mobile-based devices into the vehicle itself.
Standard information services, including Web services, and a hands-free phone, ensure that the driver’s personal address books and contacts will be easily accessible in the car. In addition, digital music stored in personal electronic devices will be available through a USB connection in the dash. All systems will feature voice activation.
Drivers will therefore have access to a wealth of services, including off-board navigation and real-time traffic information, such as those offered by Fiat’s bCONNECT device. Partners using bCONNECT services already include Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Peugeot, Vodafone, Tim, Wind, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Bosch.
This new telematics system will operate with Microsoft Windows Automotive software, which will enable Fiat Auto to implement a software design that can be customized and upgraded according to customers’ preferences. Both companies plan to develop a system that interoperates with the vehicles’ Controller Area Network (CAN) for diagnostic data.
However, the innovative technology has drawn criticism from certain areas. Some have questioned whether such a product would distract driver’s attention away from the road.