Audi And Google Take Top Tech Honors (It's More Exciting Than It Sounds)

June 17, 2010

We love a good telematics system, and Audi's MMI is a really good one -- so good, in fact, that it took home the award for "Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product" at the 2010 Telematics Awards.

And before you ask:

• Yes, there is an annual Telematics Awards ceremony.

• Yes, there is a category for "Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product".

• No, we can't tell you any more, because we'd have to kill you.

In some ways Audi's multimedia interface (MMI) system is similar to others on the market. It offers directions and traffic reports, and since it's web-enabled, it provides a range of services like shopping and dining suggestions, too. It's also adaptable to third party software, like the traffic program Bengt Halvorson mentioned a couple of weeks ago, which means that in-car apps can't be too far down the road.

But what really sets the MMI apart -- from our perspective, anyway -- is its heavy integration with Google products. It's no secret that we're big fans of the whole Google suite, and that platform is becoming more social every passing day. Between Google Maps' tagging features, business listings on Street View, and the inevitable addition of geolocation functionality on Google Earth, driving will soon become a much more interpersonal experience. Heck, we can already see friends' comments on cafes and clothing stores: it's not much of a jump from that to the Virtual Road Rally app that Ford is testing on the Fiesta, is it?

The possibilities inherent to this sort of technology are endless and awesome and just a little bit disturbing. On the awesome end: imagine driving across town and happening upon photos and virtual stickies left by your boyfriend or girlfriend. Sweet, no? Not so awesome: that same drive, with notes left by your ex. Or your mom.

Sadly, such possibilities are far more intriguing than the press release Audi sent out, but for the bored, we've pasted it below.

* * * * *

Audi and Google are winning combination at Telematics Awards 2010

- Recognition for “Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product”
- Audi A8 navigation system available with Google functionality
- Integration of Google Earth is a world first

HERNDON, Va., Jun 16, 2010  -  Audi and Google have been named as the winners of the “Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product” award at the Telematics Awards 2010. The MMI navigation system in the new Audi A8 luxury sedan is available in selected markets with a variety of Google services and information via the internet. These include Google Earth, which has been integrated into an automotive navigation system as a world first.

The Telematics Awards, which are now in their ninth year, were organized by Telematics Update and were determined by an independent jury of experts. In the “Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product” category there were ten products competing for the award.

The awards were announced and presented yesterday at a ceremony in the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Mich.

"We are very pleased to be recognized for our joint efforts in what we believe to be the leading edge of the infotainment arena,“ said Mathias Halliger, chief MMI architect, AUDI AG.

“This recognition is an excellent example of the close cooperation between Audi and Google teams in Silicon Valley and Germany,” said Daniel Rosario, project leader, connected vehicle architecture, AUDI AG. “We are convinced that this feature not only introduces a new, progressive experience to our customers, but also presents a paradigm shift in this category."

The new Audi A8, which celebrated its launch in Europe and other global markets in the first quarter of 2010, set the bar at new heights with regard to multimedia technology. Its multimedia interface (MMI) navigation plus features a highly evolved operating concept incorporating a touchpad – known as MMI touch. Also included are an integrated hard disk for navigation, phone and audio data and a graphics processor capable of generating high-quality, three dimensional images.

The all-new Audi A8 will arrive in U.S. showrooms by the end of this year, with Google Earth technology available in early 2011.

First shown as a prototype with Google in January 2006 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the online services in the new Audi A8 are the result of a close collaboration between Audi and Google development teams worldwide.

"We sincerely appreciate the acknowledgement [sic] from Telematic Update and the support and partnership with Audi,” said Jens Redmer, Principal, New Business Development, Google Inc. “These products show the power of making rich web content, particularly through Google's geographic tools, available across more platforms. We look forward to continuing to explore ways to work with automakers to bring more connectivity to drivers worldwide."

The A8 can retrieve up-to-date information from the internet through the rooftop antenna via the car’s own UMTS module. The user can search online with Google Local Search for points-of-interest directly from within the MMI. The versatile search engine accepts such free text search queries as “delicatessen” or “shoe boutique”. The results are then displayed on the onboard map or used as destinations for route calculation.

The fast data transfer of the UMTS module has allowed Audi to set a world first with the integration of Google Earth in the MMI navigation plus. Google Earth imagery and a 3D terrain model are combined with the detailed street network from the onboard navigation database as well as calculated routes in a seamless integration of online and offline content.

[Audi]

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