Driving changes for technology
HIGH-SPEED mobile connectivity is being taken to a new level with BMW and MercedesBenz to sell iPad docking stations for their vehicles later this year.
The optional feature is part of the luxury carmakers’ push to transform the car from a 20th century mobile office into a 21st century communications hub.
The iPad brackets will be mounted on the back of the front seats, giving rear seat passengers instant access to all the functions of the tablet PC, from watching movies and reading the latest edition of The Courier-Mail to browsing the internet. Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Stamoulis says the need to match customer expectations for integrated digital devices outweighs the risk the company may cost itself in sales of its own back seat DVD screens.
‘‘The hi-tech features of Mercedes-Benz goes beyond the car itself. These days it’s about the ease of connecting to mobile devices and ensuring our customers’ have the tools they need, be it for business or pleasure,’’ he says.
The iPad brackets tilt and rotate 90 degrees to match the screen aspect to whatever appli- cation is running. Power is provided by the vehicle’s electrical system and extended internet access comes from the car’s wi-fi hotspot.
That same wi-fi connection can be used for voice and data transmission using a Blackberry, iPhone and similar mobile devices with higher transfer rates than the regular Bluetooth connection.
Mercedes says the iPad docking station frame and seat attachment have been designed and tested to meet the company’s safety standards
The frame of the docking station, along with the attach- ment to the seat structure, have also been designed and verified in line with the high safety standards applied at MercedesBenz.
An added safety benefit is the fact the iPad is anchored in the docking station - unlike a device held in the hand or sat on the seat - and in the event of an accident cannot fly uncontrolled through the vehicle, potentially causing injury.
The iPad is already in use as a presentation tool at a number of car dealerships, giving sales staff access to the range of vehicle brochures, accessories lists and pricing details on any given model.
Carmakers such as Audi are also creating applications to let iPad owners browse the corporate websites or be sent details of the latest models they may have an interest in.