A main goal of the system is to increase the quality and amount of information available on a vehicle navigation system.
"We've heard from our customers that map and point-of-interest information on DVD-based navigation systems is frustratingly out of date from the day they take delivery of their car," says Filip Brabec, Audi of America's general manager of product planning.
Audi's solution: Access the Web for real-time updates using a cell phone data-link module that is engineered into the vehicle.
When a destination is set in the navigation system, "the visual is actually a layered graphic that's using information stored on board, mixed with live information brought in," Brabec says. The base layer is a graphic map display. The second layer is a topographical satellite map provided live by Google Earth. Software blends the two.
The resulting map on the high-resolution liquid crystal display screen presents a better visual than navigation systems using illustrated graphics. Nvidia Corp. of Santa Clara, California, supplies a graphics card to handle Audi Connect's complex graphics.
A third integrated layer shows Sirius traffic data in three colors that quickly identify congested areas. The fourth layer shows point-of-interest information provided by Inrix Inc. of Kirkland, Washington.
Drivers request information using a scroll wheel or a touch pad with character recognition: Users draw letters with their fingers and the computer recognizes the letters. Smart word completion speeds text inputs.
To help avoid driver distraction, text-heavy point-of-interest functions are disabled when the vehicle is in motion. But fuel prices and some other information are accessible at any time.