BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) announced a few fairly impressive BlackBerry smartphones and showed off a preview of their upcoming BlackBerry 6 operating system at WES 2010 this week, but the coolest thing at the conference was a demonstration of the BMW ConnectedDrive system. The next-generation of BMW cars will offer an option to integrate BlackBerry smartphones into the BMW dashboard display, putting email and text message within eye-sight when driving.
Most new BMWs now feature an LCD display built right into the dashboard. The display is used for GPS navigation, radio, climate control, car settings and Bluetooth phone integration. BlackBerry smartphones – as well as others, like the iPhone and Nexus One - can already connect to the BMW iDrive system via Bluetooth, syncing its address book and allowing it to make phone calls using the car’s speakers and microphone. The next generation of this system is going to add text message and email integration to that list.
When a message comes into your BlackBerry, it’s automagically pushed to the ConnectedDrive system. The car notifies you that you have a message waiting for you, and gives you to option to read it (but only when stopped) or have the system read the email to you. In the short time we had to demo the service, text-to-voice worked well. The system will even root out phone numbers embedded in emails and text messages and allow you to call that phone number with a push of the iDrive control knob.
Expect to see the option in 2011 BMWs, likely starting in the second half of 2010. See the video for the full demonstration!