Have You Talked to Your Car Today?
They don’t make cars like they used to; they make them so much better. We investigate some of the latest in-car tech, including BMW’s brand-new Intelligent Personal Assistant.
Fortunately that isn’t going to be a long wait. In-car tech is about to take its next step – and it is not one gingerly taken in a dust-free electronics lab, but a confident and very public stride in two new BMW models and four major cities.
Intelligent Personal Assistant
One of the key pieces of tech in the new BMW 3 Series, when it arrives here in March next year, will be the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. In line with the ethos of the convention-breaking new BMW 3 Series – “Don’t be driven by technology. Drive it” – the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is a digital voice assistant that can command your car’s operations and learn your preferences over time. Activated by the term “Hey BMW” (you can also give it any other name you want), it allows you to request anything from setting a navigation route – “Hey BMW, take me home” – to boosting your physical well-being. Say “Hey BMW, I’m feeling tired” and it will adjust, among other things, the ambient light intensity, music and temperature, in order to perk you up.
The really cool thing about this new tech is that it’s cloud-based, so your Intelligent Personal Assistant will remember every command, question, and setting you input, compiling your personal profile. Called a BMW ID, it will reside in the cloud and when you drive your next BMW – much like your backed-up smartphone info – your comprehensive BMW ID profile will follow you and instantly personalise your new car.
BMW iDrive 7.0
Like your smartphone or laptop, a car’s infotainment interface also requires an operating system and, as is often the case in those devices, a new OS usually involves only subtle changes. Not so with BMW’s new iDrive 7.0 – even a quick glance at the graphic interface will change your mind. Making its debut in the all-new BMW X5, gone is the kind of digital display still used by others in the market. Those displays still mimic the traditional round gauges that have been used for the last century. Instead, in its place is something truly future-forward with a user interface that wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi movie like Minority Report.
Think highly personalised display with all the critical driver data displayed on a screen that would look more at home in a futuristic fighter jet than a car. The overall idea behind the design is to highlight relevant information when it’s needed, then let it fade back when it’s not, allowing the driver to focus on the task at hand.
In this digital age of hyper communication, the common ground between all our electronic devices grows ever closer. And as our mobile phones get smarter with interfaces increasingly intuitive, so are our vehicles. The data stream between all is ever more fluid and we’re at a point now where you cannot just drive your car, but talk to it as well.