Battle of In-Vehicle Connectivity Heads to 2011 CES

Toyota Entune image e1294246185207

Toyota Entune image e1294246185207

Infotainment has become an important area of research and development in the automotive industry. Many consumers want it, but most automakers are still playing catch-up. Ford and Microsoft introduced SYNC nearly four years ago and other automakers are still lagging behind this system in terms of features and availability. Ford will soon offer SYNC throughout its lineup, and already the system has been installed on more than 3 million vehicles.

One brand aiming to make a name for itself in OEM infotainment is Toyota. At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota will introduce Entune, a new integrated multimedia system that uses the driver’s Net-enabled and Bluetooth-equipped smartphone.

“Consumers have grown accustomed to having the world at their fingertips through their mobile phones,” said Jon Bucci, vice president of the Advanced Technology Department at Toyota. “And unlike other industry solutions, Entune allows the driver to interact with informative and entertaining mobile content without fumbling with their phone. We offer features that our customers demand and integrate them seamlessly in the vehicle.”

Toyota Entune is equipped with a wide range of features that are comparable to other infotainment systems. Entune comes equipped with search functionality provided by Micorsoft’s Bing search engine, along with streaming audio from Pandora and iheartradio, restaurant booking through OpenTable and show times and ticket purchasing through Entune also delivers customizable real time traffic, fuel prices, weather, stocks and sports information. The system also includes support for read-back and replay capabilities for text messages.

General Motors’ OnStar will also be making news in Las Vegas from the Verizon Wireless booth. OnStar will  demonstrate possible applications when the system is mated to Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless broadband network. Features being demonstrated include voice search, a traffic view that streams live traffic-cam images, Skype with video chat, and an impact detection system.

While Entune and OnStar are crucial for Toyota and GM, respectively, the auto infotainment leader won’t be sitting idle. At CES, Ford will demonstrate its latest SYNC app called Destinations. This mobile phone app delivers real-time speed, accident and incident info and a range of other data on the go, giving drivers the ability to plan trips before they even get behind the wheel.

There’s long been a disconnect between the development of cars and the development in-car consumer electronics. Ford has been ahead of the curve in this arena, but other automakers are learning quickly as more consumers seem eager to opt for infotainment in their vehicles.

What do you think?

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Written by David Lux

David is a blogger, marketer, and spends copious hours devouring content concerning autos, tech, and then more autos. You can follow him on Twitter: @autocontent

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