Photo Courtesy of BMWBMW has been announcing a lot of new changes lately, especially Nuance's Dragon Drive! being included in some of their luxury cars, and have now announced a pretty nice array of gadget changes and upgrades on their ConnectedDrive infotainment system. The German car brand is going to bring in new perks like the iDrive Touch controller, 3D City Models, and a neat Text-to-Speech function that may or may not cut down on reckless driving. BMW hasn't said when exactly you can be expected to see these new features, but they should be popping up in the 7 and 3 Series.
The new iDrive Touch controller is a touch-sensitive pad that will be integrated into the system's control unit. The multi-touch surface, placed right within reach above the radio controls, allows drivers to access various features quicker and safer. It will feature handwriting recognition and at some point, internet browsing capabilities. Handwriting recognition will make commands much easier, where before writing could only be done via a control knob. To make things easier and safer for the driver, a voice output will repeat the characters it recognizes. Available for the Chinese market first, the iDrive Touch pad will be introduced into most other markets at some time next year.
Navigation is also getting some nice upgrades, like High Guiding and 3D City Models. Before, the navigation screen was just a split screen with a little arrow directing you along your path. The High Guiding will give you arrowed guidance, but will also zoom into a bird's eye view once you get closer to the next direction. Furthermore, it will give detailed directions on which lane you should be in as you get even closer to the next point, the view changes to an overhead look at what the traffic is like so you can make sure you don't miss your turn due to a traffic jam.
The inclusion of 3D City Models will make your directions far more detailed and fun. The new option features a realistic image of the streets and buildings you're driving among, visualizing the city in more accurate ways and helping to show you exactly where you are. Of course, the city needs to be one well known enough that it's stored in the system.
Text-to-Speech is definitely one of our favorite new additions. Employing full speech recognition, the system can transcribe your words into various formats, be it text or email. You can also record voice memos (either to store or email) so you won't forget to bring your kid chocolate milk after work, narrowly avoiding his emotional breakdown.
BMW is using the danger of text messaging as a selling point for the new Text-to-Speech feature, and while being able to speak your messages will eliminate any need to fiddle with a phone, we can honestly say that we would probably play with the fancy touch screen just as much, if not more. It certainly is a step forward though because with all of this technology available, can anyone really be expected to leave it be during their ten-minute drive to the grocery store?
The feature will also be able to understand spoken punctuation, so your emails won't read as giant run-on sentences. Being grammatically correct should prove very useful, especially with anything business related.
For more information visit BMWUSA.com