Volkswagen is hoping to take the idea of connected cars to a higher level in 2015 by introducing myriad new features to its vehicles that will be offered for sale in the United States.
The German carmaker made a wide range of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, including a coming second generation "modular infotainment platform," called MIB II, that will arrive later this year for its vehicles, as well as the introduction of Android Auto and CarPlay by Apple in its vehicle line-up in 2015.
Android Auto, developed by Google, uses USB as an interface. And Android Auto lets drivers and passengers use various apps, such as Google Maps, Google Play, WhatsApp and Spotify, inside vehicles using touch-screen operation or through Google Voice control using the vehicle's multifunction steering wheel, according to Volkswagen.
CarPlay by Apple, on display at CES in a specially "connected" VW Golf at the show, lets iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus users control various smartphone apps through a car's infotainment system via touchscreen or via Siri voice control.
Volkswagen showed off these and other innovations in a fleet of vehicles at CES—including computer-controlled drive systems, app and smartphone integration, intuitive vehicle operation, and autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.
"The two inventions of the century, the car and the computer, are gradually coming closer together," Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the CEO of Volkswagen AG, said in a statement. "We need to design future mobility to be even more intelligent and even more networked."
The in-vehicle connections between smartphones and vehicles will be pushed beyond today's typical Bluetooth connections in 2015, according to Volkswagen, through the company's MIB II innovations in the United States. Also being unveiled in Volkswagens this year is MirrorLink, which will help integrate the apps and operating layout of numerous smartphones from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and others, according to the carmaker.
The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto services will follow the implementation of MirrorLink, the company said.
At the show, VW also showed innovations such as how electric cars will be able to automatically dock to inductive charging stations and output signals that indicate the battery state-of-charge using the vehicle's exterior lights.
VW is also showing off innovations such as systems that can "read" hand motions using sensors so that operators can control in-car systems without having to use a touch-screen, the company said. Such systems are being shown at CES in the VW Golf R Touch concept vehicle that is on display. "This technology adds comfort and convenience to human-vehicle interaction by reducing driver distractions while operating controls, and further underscores the synchronized relationship between the car and the computer," the company said in a statement.
Connected cars continue to gain interest around the nation and world.
In December 2014, a group of automakers, including Volkswagen, announced that they have been working on privacy principles that will govern the data that is generated by connected vehicles so that users' data is protected, according to an earlier report by eWEEK. The privacy principles will take effect as of January 2, 2016. The privacy principles, created on behalf of The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), the Association of Global Automakers (AGA) and their member automakers, build on other existing protections for consumers, yet target data generated by operation of connected vehicles.
The issue arises because lots of information can be obtained today through a variety of vehicle systems, involving the collection of information about a vehicle's location or a driver's use of a vehicle, including speed, braking force and much more, the groups said. Ensuring that such data remains private is essential to maintaining consumer trust, the groups argue. The privacy principles cover a wide variety of in-vehicle systems, such as safety-enhancing technologies, diagnosing vehicle malfunctions, calling for emergency assistance, detecting and preventing vehicle theft, reducing traffic congestion, improving vehicle efficiency and performance, delivering navigation services and providing information services, according to the document.