For many people, unrestricted access to information has become an indispensable part of their daily lives – be it at work or in their leisure time. And what’s more, worldwide more and more people are spending increasing amounts of time on the move – particularly also in the car where they want to stay fully “networked” wherever possible.
Mercedes-Benz has responded to this growing customer need with its seamless telematics strategy @yourCOMAND: the inventor of the automobile showcases the concept of a comprehensive cloud-based system in its new F 125! research vehicle. Mercedes-Benz is already offering secure, convenient in-car internet access in numerous models courtesy of the COMAND Online multimedia system introduced this year.
Internet access, the convenient LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system, two different navigation solutions, interfaces for mobile devices and an intuitive operating concept: just some of the functions supported by the new COMAND Online multimedia system, which Mercedes-Benz has used to implement the motto “always on in the car” this year. The F 125! research vehicle, which paves the way for future in-car telematics and infotainment systems, provides a glimpse of the multimedia future at the Mercedes-Benz brand.
“@yourCOMAND turns the car into a mobile communications centre that provides the driver and passengers with access to all modern media and services at all times”, says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “Thanks to the consistently cloud-based solution, we can also uncouple from the established vehicle development cycles and are at eye level with the rapid developments in the world of consumer electronics. We can therefore always provide our customers with access to the latest applications for fully fledged in-car connectivity.”
Seamless experience and natural handling
The Mercedes-Benz telematics strategy is based on four components: @yourCOMAND stands for
- Seamless experience,
- Natural handling,
- Sensory perfection and
- Remote convenience.
Mercedes-Benz has implemented this strategic approach for the first time in its F 125! research vehicle.
Seamless experience connects the multimedia systems in the F 125! seamlessly and cross-functionally. The applications are socially interactive and do not distract the driver. Thanks to the permanent connection with the data cloud, the driver also has “seamless” access in the vehicle to all the used media, with no need for any cumbersome synchronisation.
Natural handling enables the telematics and infotainment systems in the F 125! to be largely controlled via voice as well as by means of supplementary intuitive gesture and touch elements. In order to promote optimum driver-fitness and operating safety, the research vehicle becomes the perfect, ever attentive front passenger for its driver and passengers. The driver can, for instance, request the latest news tailored to their personal needs and ask specific context-related queries without having to take the hands off the wheel.
Sensory perfection stands for high-end sound and high-resolution screens with pin-sharp, individual displays. The auto stereoscopic 3D display provides a 3D representation of the instrument cluster and can cluster relevant information on the F 125! display as required. The display is tailored to natural viewing habits, provides a clearer overview, thus reducing the driver’s workload. A retractable 17-inch display is fitted to the front passenger side, which is controlled entirely via gestures as part of the touchless interface. A high-resolution widescreen display instead of conventional mirrors enables the entire traffic area alongside and behind the vehicle to be conveniently monitored. This solution also helps identify the particular traffic situation faster and more intuitively.
Remote convenience enables the vehicle and its multimedia system to be fully preconfigured remotely using a PC or smartphone – from programming the navigation and entertainment system through to seat-specific presetting of the desired interior temperature. Authorised persons have constant access to information such as the fuel level in the tank, the next scheduled service or the fuel consumption via the vehicle’s specific homepage.
Mercedes innovations: from the research lab onto the road in no time at all
In the past, the company has repeatedly demonstrated just how quickly Mercedes-Benz can implement visionary technologies in series production – also in the area of active road safety, for instance. The company is also pushing forward with the innovation process for telematics and infotainment systems just as concertedly: key functions of the myComand connectivity concept unveiled in 2008 have now found their way into COMAND Online, which is already available for many of the brand’s models.
COMAND Online multimedia system: a host of functions and optimum convenience
The COMAND Online multimedia system allows Mercedes-Benz to already meet its aspiration of ‘always on’ in the Mercedes-Benz C- and E-Class as well as in the SLK-Class and the CLS-Class models. It will also be available for the new B- and M-Class, which will be launched in November. New apps for the social networking site Facebook™ and for Google™ Street View and Panoramio by Google™ will also be available for this system from November. Other apps that have already been launched include “Google Local search” and “Weather” as well as the option of sending a route or points of interest configured beforehand on a PC using Google Maps to the vehicle and uploading this into the navigation system. The required internet access for the COMAND Online functions is provided via a mobile using a Bluetooth connection.
Over the medium term, a dozen other apps are planned, which are currently under development in collaboration with partners, including innovative start-ups and other popular internet content providers. All customers driving a Mercedes-Benz fitted with COMAND Online can use the new apps. The Daimler vehicle backend server automatically updates COMAND Online and provides updates for apps – all without having to call into an authorised Mercedes-Benz dealer or a garage.
New functions added to hard-disc navigation
The fast hard-disc navigation function for COMAND Online has also been upgraded with new functions. New features include a 3D display with three-dimensional city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be stored or imported via an SD‑card and four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, one of them a particularly economical option. Mercedes-Benz customers in Europe receive the latest map updates for their COMAND Online multimedia system free of charge for three years. Authorised Mercedes-Benz dealers will upload updates for navigation data in 39 European countries into the navigation system when the car is brought to their premises.
In Europe, COMAND Online also comprises Speed Limit Assist, which receives its information for traffic sign recognition via a camera and navigation database. COMAND Online also includes the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system for audio, telephone and navigation. The new “One Shot” input function for the navigation system is particularly convenient, whereby the place and road can be said directly after one another. This function is currently available in seven languages and significantly enhances ease of operation.
The high-resolution colour display has a diagonal of 17.8 cm. Photos can be shown on the large screen and turned over manually, as in a slide show. Where the audio equipment is concerned, too, new types of representation bring a fresh look and more convenient operation. The new Cover Flow function, for instance, sorts the title images of the music albums stored in a carousel-like form, so that the Mercedes driver can easily leaf through their music collection – even if it is rather on the large side: the memory for compressed audio files (mp3, wma and aac formats) is now 10 GB in size. As an option, COMAND Online is available with a 6-disc DVD changer.
Greatest comfort is afforded by the Music Search function, which enables drivers and passengers to search the hard disc, SD memory cards, USB sticks, CD and DVD for specific music tracks and artists. The search can be according to various criteria, for instance album, music category or composer. If a name needs to be entered, the software will also tolerate spelling mistakes. The driver is therefore able to devote their full attention to the traffic. As a further advantage, the occupants are able to search all the connected media and devices simultaneously
Perfect integration of smartphones
From the middle of next year, Mercedes-Benz will be offering a new infotainment option, which is especially developed for the iPhone. Once the iPhone is connected with the vehicle, an app developed by Mercedes-Benz, sends various information to the vehicle display and makes this function easy to control with the COMAND controller. The system uses the processing power of the iPhone and the vehicle’s wide display, to create a revolutionary uer interface with fluent transitions and animations.
Open standard for the integration of smartphones
Mercedes-Benz will support the seamless integration and secure usage of smartphones made by other manufacturers such as Nokia, HTC or Samsung in the car by means of the MirrorLink™ open standard. This new connection option, which will be introduced in 2013, enables smartphone screen content to be transferred to the COMAND display and controlled with the COMAND controller.
Plug&play principle: operation is child’s play
Operation is very user-friendly: the user connects their phone to the vehicle and can then use roughly all the mobile phone applications in the car straight away with no limitations. While the handset provides the user with access to applications and services, the on-board infotainment system provides the necessary physical interfaces – the large colour display, loudspeakers and microphone. Operation is simple and reliable by means of the central COMAND Online rotary control/pushbutton. The on-board system is therefore ideally supplemented, providing constant access to the very latest applications. Due to fact, that the driver must be able to devote their full attention to the traffic at all times, only apps certified by Mercedes-Benz or the Car Connectivity Consortium can be used while driving.
Another advantage: the system not only enables a wide range of the apps available on the mobile to be used and shown on the vehicle display, but also allows specific vehicle applications to be developed simply with the user interface perfectly tailored to the vehicle architecture.
Near Field Communication: simplified pairing process
Near Field Communication (NFC) is an innovative transmission standard for the contactless exchange of data over short distances. The transmission distance is deliberately limited to just five centimetres, making the system virtually eavesdropping-proof. NFC makes usage even easier: typical Bluetooth pairing processes such as device search, selection and exchange of pass code are no longer required. The smartphone must be hold at an area, which is marked with the NFC symbol and the connection request must be confirmed. NFC will be premiered in 2013.
All the aforementioned systems – from iPhone integration to NFC – promote the unrestricted usage of smartphone functions in the vehicle, making for a more versatile, safer and more convenient in-car smartphone experience. These systems constitute major steps on the way to implementing the Mercedes-Benz @yourCOMAND strategy, since they already support basic functions such as seamless experience and sensory perfection
Mercedes-Benz: three decades’ experience of mobile communications
Mercedes-Benz paved the way for (auto-)mobile communications in the 1950s with the introduction of an affordable car radio suitable for everyday use. The first sets, which were trialled in the 1930s, were large, heavy and prohibitively expensive. In 1992, Mercedes-Benz showcased the first fully integrated telematics system in the S-Class in the shape of the Communication and Navigation System (CNS).
The LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system followed in 1996, another groundbreaking innovation which still sets the benchmark even today. Mercedes-Benz launched the infotainment system dubbed COMAND in 1998. COMAND stands for “Cockpit Management and Data System” and combines the operation of all the installed systems such as radio, TV, telephony and navigation. 2002 saw the debut of the first 16:9 colour screen used at Mercedes-Benz. The rotary control/pushbutton, which was premiered in the S-Class in 2005 and subsequently rolled out in numerous other Mercedes-Benz models, makes it much easier to operate COMAND, thus enhancing the acknowledged exemplary operating comfort of the brand behind the three-pointed star.