Chevrolet has just revealed its plans to build its MyLink technology into the 2012 Chevy Volt and Equinox–a system that adds security from OnStar and accesses streaming music content from Pandora and Stitcher SmartRadio, all controlled by voice and touch controls.
Chevy is highlighting the MyLink as attractive to “consumers who seek a higher level of in-vehicle wireless connectivity and customized infotainment options,” and in our ever-more digitally connected world that’s going to be a lot of people, soon enough. The tech builds on existing Chevy voice-controlled Bluetooth tech offered in “most” of its vehicles, but tacks on a 7-inch color touchscreen display. It gets its streaming powers from an integrated 3G cell phone circuit, but doesn’t shun more traditional in-car entertainment choices as there’s still an AM/FM/XM tuner and CD option with MP3 file compatibility and AUX and USB inputs (so you can still just hook up your iPod, should you prefer).
The clever bit in the cars is integration of Nuance’s voice recognition tech which “allows simple voice commands to initiate phone calls and select radio stations” and even to choose which MP3 track is played–all you have to do is tap a “listen” button on the steering wheel, and say “play U2” or some such. As well as making you feel like Michael Knight this also is less of a distraction from the principal task of driving safely than tapping away at a traditional car stereo or even a touchscreen (though we do have to note it reminds us of almost all the existing powers of the iPhone and Android devices). Neatly the system uses Gracenote to ID the music on your “smartphone or MP3 player” and automatically catalogs your media collection so you don’t have to fish through folders to find the track you desire–and you can even just stick in a USB thumb drive full of tracks if you have one handy.
In terms of security, OnStar is again baked-in to Chevy’s cars, so you can force a stolen vehicle to slow down, and you should also be able to remote-start, lock or unlock your car if you have the appropriate smartphone app (and when you’re in the car, you may be able to throw your phone onto a powermat charging base, as Chevrolet’s soon bolting this tech into the 2012 Volt and Equinox).
Essentially your 2012 Chevy is a voice-controlled, wirelessly connected smartphone on wheels, just lacking the acerbic whine that the famous KITT of Knight Rider used.
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