Fiat and Microsoft launch Blue&Me in-car communications & entertainment system
By Mike Hanlon
February 1, 2006
February 2, 2006 Fiat and Microsoft will launch Blue&Me; based on Windows Mobile for Automotive at the 2006 Geneva Motorshow later this month, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of in-car communication, infotainment and entertainment systems and providing all vehicles in the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Commercial Vehicle ranges with a competitive advantage. Blue&Me; will be the first product seen from the long-term strategic partnership inked in July 2004 with the objective of co-designing innovative automotive telematics systems.
The system will exclusively be available on new Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars as well as on Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles. The Grande Punto, Alfa Romeo 159, 159 Sportwagon, Brera and Spider will be equipped this from the middle of this year, followed by the other models of Fiat Auto's product range.
Instead of costly and rigid hardware, Fiat Auto and Microsoft - with the support of Magneti Marelli - will offer a platform that can be adapted to most mobile phones, digital media players and other mobile devices. The customer is free to change them with new models without compromising compatibility with the car.
Blue&Me; guarantees maximum security levels and user-friendliness. The voice-activated system, the complete integration of steering wheel control buttons and information on the dashboard display will allow users to utilize any Bluetooth-based mobile phone - even if it is in a pocket or handbag - without removing hands from the steering wheel.
Thanks to a modern voice-recognition system, no preliminary voice training is needed, and even incoming SMS messages are read aloud to the driver.
Among audio functions, it is possible to listen to music stored on a mobile phone, in the newest smart phones, and in MP3 readers or USB removable sticks. All this thanks to a USB port, in the glove box, which enables the connection to any digital device with the correspondent port.
The collaboration between Fiat and Microsoft allows Blue&Me; to be based on an open platform, compatible with the largest number of devices such as mobile phones, Palms and MP3 players, with the real benefit of continuously catching up with market innovations, thus maintaining the perfect integration with the car at an entry-level price.
A further short-term evolution will offer a particularly simple and interactive navigation system, and access to a set of services among which are a personal assistant to check addresses, weather and traffic forecasts, satellite localization in case of theft, SOS, and other services currently under development.
The system is a completely integrated technology with a one-to-one relation with the customer, as the name Blue&Me; underlines.
Details of vehicle applications and availability will be released as models equipped with Blue&Me; arrive in individual markets