The term “Audi connect” covers all applications and developments that connect Audi cars to the owner, the Internet, the infrastructure and other vehicles. Audi began partnering with key suppliers for both the software and hardware components back in 2005. 2009 saw Audi connect Internet services being premiered in the car.
The Bluetooth online car phone and voice control
The Bluetooth online car phone is available for a large number of models as a supplement to MMI Navigation plus, Audi’s top-of-the-range navigation system. It connects to the Internet via a UMTS module. The built-in WLAN hotspot allows passengers to connect up to eight mobile devices so that they can surf and send e-mails whenever and wherever they like.
The Bluetooth online car phone is operated via MMI navigation plus, using the multifunction steering wheel or by voice control. Telephone calls and data transfer are handled by a roof antenna to optimize connectivity. The driver merely needs to insert a data-capable SIM card into the card reader to go online. Alternatively, they can connect their cell phone to the system via Bluetooth if it is equipped with the necessary SIM Access Profile.
The Audi models already constitute a compelling proposition thanks to their excellent ergonomics. This is due in no small part to the voice-activated control system available for many models. The driver can operate key functions of the audio system, navigation, Audi connect, and the telephone – including address book – by voice control.
If a Bluetooth online car phone is installed, voice control can also be used to operate the Point-of-Interest search (POI) – an Audi connect service. The driver can input his or her destination – city, street and house number – in a single sentence; the driver can also enter the names of radio stations, media titles and contacts. Keywords can even be used with the POI search.
The voice command is translated into a data packet and sent to the Google search engines. The responses that appear on the onboard monitor include practical additional information in many instances.
Audi connect services
The Bluetooth online car phone provides the driver with a host of tailored Audi connect services, such as news, travel and weather information, along with information including the latest flight and train connection details. The new Audi A3 even features a convenient read-aloud function.
Audi online traffic information displays up-to-the-minute traffic flow data on the navigation map. If the route chosen by the driver has free-flowing traffic, it is shown in green; yellow indicates dense or slow-moving traffic, and red signifies a traffic jam. In the latter case, the service will explain the problem and suggest a sensible alternative route.
The Audi system covers most European countries; in addition to highways it also includes cities and rural routes. The primary source of data for the database is from countless smartphones and navigation devices that are carried in vehicles and report their current positions at short time intervals to service providers over the cell phone network. A detailed picture of the traffic load situation is derived from the anonymized data provided.
Navigation using Google Earth images and Google Maps Street View makes it far easier to find your way around. Here the driver is able to consult beforehand a street view of his or her selected destination made up of 360° panoramic images; graphics from Google Earth provide navigation to the destination. The map zoom function down to 30 meters (98.43 ft) constitutes an unrivaled feature.
Audi music stream is the web radio from Audi connect. Using this app and UPNP (Universal Plug and Play) technology, the user can receive broadcasts from over 3,000 Internet radio stations. Personal favorites can be saved to a cell phone, and they can be played via the MMI navigation plus system.
This function is integrated via WLAN within the MMI navigation plus operating concept; the onboard audio system handles playback. The app also provides access to the media center on the smartphone via a WLAN link.
The City Events service from Audi connect provides information – optionally using the read-aloud function – on events and concerts at the location, at the travel destination or a freely selectable location. Using airplane and train information from Audi connect, the driver can call up departure times, track numbers and gates and obtain information on any delays. Filter options also allow the user to search directly for a certain flight number. The refueling service lists the best refueling stations; the function also takes into account the type of fuel needed.
The online community services Facebook and Twitter have been prepared for Audi connect in a car-friendly way. In addition to the read-aloud function, there is also a handy text function – the driver can send ready-made templates, combined with data such as the current position. Both services can be tailored to the customer’s individual needs, just like certain other Audi connect services, via a myAudi account using a home PC.
Incoming e-mails can also be transmitted via Bluetooth from the cell phone to the vehicle and read aloud.
The driver can dictate (SMS) text messages; the command to send the message can also be activated via voice.
Another new service from Audi connect is Picturebook Navigation. Here the driver can save photos of destinations, which are linked to geonavigation data (GPS), in the “photo box” of MMI Navigation plus. These may be the driver’s own photos or scenes from Google Maps Street View. Photos can be imported via an SD card or a myAudi account, etc.
Audi connect – outlook
In future the car will evolve from a status symbol to a mobile device – a technological object that lets its users be online and connected while on the move. The brand with the four rings is positioning itself in the forefront of this development with its new Audi connect technologies.
The LTE wireless communication standard
The cell phone network is a crucial aspect for the future networking of cars. In most countries, mobile-device data is transferred via existing UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) networks. Depending on the type of configuration, the third generation (3G) of this mobile communications standard currently supports transfer rates of up to 28.8 MBit/s.
For the immediate future, Audi is embracing the fourth generation mobile standard that is referred to as LTE (Long Term Evolution). The new network supports data rates of up to 150 MBit/s downstream and considerably faster response times. Commercial LTE networks already exist in several European countries and in the USA; in Germany, LTE is already available in some cities and in many rural areas, as well.
LTE technology enables the exchange of large quantities of data, such as music and movies, in HD quality. The onboard WLAN hotspot allows passengers to do different things on different mobile terminal devices at the same time. For example, one passenger can participate in a videoconference while another watches a video.
Audi is striving to be the first automotive service provider to fully integrate the new standard in cars. LTE will find its way into the model range before the end of this year.
Data in the cloud
The high-speed LTE mobile communications network will promote ‘data in the cloud’ pursuits considerably. Customers can store their personal music, photo or video files on an Internet server. They can then use this data anytime, anywhere.
Car-to-X communication, another important aspect of Audi connect, opens up many new opportunities for making driving safer, more relaxed and more economical. Cars networked with each other can alert each other to hazards such as icy roads or cross-traffic at intersections. Communication with traffic lights enables vehicles to accurately anticipate green lights for uninterrupted cruising.
Car-to-X communication also offers a great deal of potential for disseminating up-to-the-minute traffic information. Similar to Audi online traffic information, it notifies the driver of traffic conditions along a selected route; the usage of Automotive WLAN communications, however, provides more accurate data that is constantly updated.
There are two different scenarios for the establishment of Car-to-X technology, which Audi is helping to promote. One such scenario involves anonymized vehicle data being sent over the wireless network to a central backend. At this point the data is individually processed and the results sent to the individual cars.
The second solution involves data being transmitted from one car to another directly via Automotive WLAN, a special WLAN variant, which is used on a cross-manufacturer basis. Direct communication with the infrastructure, such as traffic lights, can also be set up. The new technology supports the use of a form of collective intelligence. In other words, vehicles and the infrastructure quickly, spontaneously and remotely set up a network.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.