DaimlerChrysler AG on Thursday became the first auto maker to commit to using Bluetooth technology in its telematics service.
The German companys Chrysler Group next year will roll out a system that enables consumers to use their existing wireless phone to connect to a Bluetooth-based network inside the vehicle. Some services will also be available outside the vehicle.
The auto maker announced a partnership with AT&T Wireless, and customers signing up with the carrier will be able to access enhanced services.
The new system, based on Mercedes Benzs Tele Aid service, is completely hands-free and is driven by voice commands. When the driver enters the vehicle with a Bluetooth-enabled wireless phone, the phone will connect to the embedded Bluetooth wireless network.
The phone audio is then fed through the vehicles speakers, overriding the radio. A microphone attached to the rearview mirror picks up voice commands, and users need only press one button to make a call.
The system also includes an audio address book.
Because the system uses the Bluetooth short-range wireless technology, the phone does not have to be in a cradle inside the vehicle; it can be anywhere in the vehicle.
"The beauty of the system is that you can use your existing phone, not have to get an additional phone number and you can take it with you," said David Barnas, a spokesman at DaimlerChrysler, based in Stuttgart, Germany.
AT&T Wireless will also offer customers some optional information services on a subscription basis.
The announcement also includes partnerships with a wide variety of vendors. IBM Corp. will supply the speech-recognition software, Embedded ViaVoice, for the system; Intel Corp. will provide its Xscale-based processors and StrataFlash memory; Johnson Controls Inc. will integrate the overall telematics system; and Gentex Corp. is building a custom rearview mirror for Chryslers system.
Chryslers new offering will be available in aftermarket installations in the spring of 2002 and will be a factory installed option on some vehicles beginning in 2003.
The service will face a broad range of competition. General Motors Corp.s OnStar system has been available for more than five years and Ford Motor Co. has formed a joint venture with Qualcomm Inc. called Wingcast that is working on a service similar to Chryslers.