Original Article written by Joseph Szczesny for The Detroit Bureau
DETROIT, MI (05.15.2013) – The typical new car is likely to have as many digital processors onboard as the average home – and advanced technology, especially infotainment apps, have become a key differentiator between brands. That’s especially true in the luxury segment. Just ask Mercedes-Benz.
The German maker is expanding its relationship with Silicon Valley by demonstrating a variety of new apps and services at Google I/O, the technology giant’s annual conference for software and app developers. Among the apps it will show off, the new “Heat Map” can find night club, restaurant and shopping hot spots.
Mercedes-Benz is the featured developer at this year’s event where it is demonstrating the Drive Kit Plus, a system which enables the seamless integration of a smartphone into the vehicle’s infotainment architecture.
With the Digital DriveStyle App, the main functions of the smartphone can be organized under the headings Social, Media and Places and called up on the vehicle display – and also accessed safely and conveniently while driving through the vehicle’s command controller or by using the voice-based intelligent personal assistant.
The Drive Kit Plus will be offered as an accessory for virtually all current Mercedes-Benz model series.
In the concept version of Digital DriveStyle, Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating the capabilities of Google’s Places API with four new features, which includes faster search for street addresses or potential destinations such as restaurants and a “preview destinations on-the-go” feature. This allows a motorist to explore landmarks, parks, even storefronts from around the world with 360-degree Street View imagery.
Another feature includes Radar View, which uses the Google Places API Radar Search and Heatmaps to guide a motorist to the center of the action by visualizing areas with high concentrations of night clubs, restaurants and shopping centers. Another feature integrates Google’s traffic service, providing a color-coded overlay of real-time traffic conditions on a Google Map.
All of the features are expected to be integrated into the Digital DriveStyle App this year. Customers who already own a Drive Kit Plus and are using the app can obtain an updated version through the Apple Store. This avoids customers having to visit their Mercedes-Benz dealer to be able to use the new services.
A growing number of manufacturers have established research centers in Silicon Valley, but Mercedes claims to have been the first, opening its facility in Palo Alto in 1995. Today, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. (MBRDNA) has around 140 employees, the largest workforce of all of the automotive manufacturers located in Silicon Valley.
The Digital DriveStyle App has been fully developed in-house by Mercedes-Benz, with all of the functionality and design having been handled by MBRDNA. The integration of Google content is a result of the close cooperation between the developers from Mountain View. A partnership between Google and Mercedes-Benz was officially launched in 2012 at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
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