Continental AG and Deutsche Telekom AG have teamed up to bring infotainment services previously seen only in high-end cars to the compact and mid-sized car segments.
The partners have created AutoLinQ (pronounced auto link), a connectivity solution that allows a driver to download music, answer e-mails using voice recording technology and even close the car’s sunroof by using a mobile phone.
A prototype of AutoLinQ has been installed in a Volkswagen Passat CC that will be on display at Deutsche Telekom's CeBIT stand in Hanover March 2-6.
Continental and Deutsche Telekom aim to launch AutoLinQ in 2012.
The partners do not have a contract yet, but they are talking to several automakers about the technology, said Marcus Heitmann, leader of automotive projects at T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom's central research and development institute.
“We have a good prototype,” he said. “It is not completely automotive grade yet as we are still testing safety and security.”
Heitmann has a lot of expertise in both of those areas. Before joining Telekom, he was an information technology security officer at VW. He also worked on VW’s embedded security such as in-car systems that prevented people from manipulating the odometer.
Heitmann said secure gateways are being put in place to make sure no one can manipulate or gain access to the applications on AutoLinQ.
Currently AutoLinQ is being developed as original equipment for new cars, but Heitmann said an aftermarket version also is being discussed.
AutoLinQ is based on the principle behind the iPhone mobile phone from Apple which, with its simple operation and wide range of mini-programs, or apps, has set standards that are gaining popularity in the automotive world.
Continental has developed its own cockpit computer for the mini-programs, which uses the Android operating system developed by Google. Apps run on this cockpit computer either as permanently installed programs or via a special browser, which retrieves the data from an Internet platform.
T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom's corporate customers arm, uses a combination of information and communication technology to make the Internet and mini-programs available even during journeys.
Heitmann said Conti’s strength include its knowledge of in-car electronics while Telekom is strong in the areas such as connectivity and useablity.
At CeBIT, the partners will demonstrate features such as apps for searching and downloading music using the Deutsche Telekom Musicload service. With AutoLinQ, e-mails can be received and read to the driver in the car. The drive can answer the e-mail by recording a reply and sending it as an MP3 file to the caller.