Smartphones have become a large part of many peoples' daily lives, while computer-based in-vehicle infotainment systems are on their way to becoming standard equipment in all new vehicles. While there are some smartphone apps that are able to interact with some in-car systems, for the most part the two have been leading separate existences. The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), however, wants to change that. The group, which contains high-profile member companies from the automotive and mobile communications industries, has established a new technical standard for two-way communications between in-dash displays and applications running on smartphones. It's named MirrorLink, and the first products utilizing the standard will be unveiled this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Previously known as Terminal Mode 1.0.1, MirrorLink is designed to allow automotive systems including digital displays, audio systems and steering wheel buttons to be directly linked with the driver or passenger's mobile device. This connection could be wired or wireless, via existing technologies such as USB, Bluetooth, HFP and A2DP.

The two-way connectivity would make it possible for the driver to use the car's simplified, strategically-placed controls for smartphone-related tasks such as making phone calls, while also allowing users to download driving-related apps (such as navigation systems) onto their phones, then using them in their car.

Should people be worried about distracted driving, the group claims that all MirrorLink-certified products would have to meet its safety guidelines, which involve keeping drivers' hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Ultimately, it comes down to one question - will the system cause people to multitask while driving, or would they be doing it anyway, and this way it's safer? The comments board is open.

CCC claims that its members currently represent about 60 percent of the market shares of both the automotive and smartphone industries. Those members include Alpine, Clarion, Daimler, Garmin International, General Motors, Honda R&D, HTC, Hyundai Motor Company, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony Corporation, Sony Ericsson AB, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The MirrorLink products to be announced in Frankfurt have not yet been revealed.