Chrysler to Offer In-Vehicle Wi-Fi

Starting with the 2009 model year, drivers won’t have to stop at leather seats or moon roofs when they shop for options for their new cars. Chrysler customers will also be able to add a whole slew of high-tech options, including Wi-Fi, to certain new vehicles.

The initiative is part of a program that Chrysler has dubbed “uconnect.” It includes a variety of consumer technologies all given “uconnect” brands as follows: “uconnect phone,” “uconnect tunes,” “uconnect gps,” “uconnect studios,” and “uconnect web [sic].”

Uconnect web will provide high-speed “data transfer” by combining Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity within vehicles. According to a Chrysler press release issued today, “The system transforms the vehicle into a ‘hot spot’ to deliver the Internet directly to the vehicle, for instant access to Web sites, e-mail, personalized music, online gaming, photo albums, and more.”

The combo Wi-Fi/cellular in-vehicle hotspot will be created after market by Mopar, the automobile parts and service arm of Chrysler for Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles.

The other uconnect features are as follows:

uconnect phone

The uconnect phone option will use Bluetooth technology to provide voice-controlled wireless communication between drivers’ Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and the vehicle’s onboard receiver. The hands-free system automatically downloads up to 1,000 phone book entries from supported phones. It also recognizes three languages and is capable of learning. Voice commands can manage onboard phone book entries, select radio stations, and access voicemail. The microphone built-in to the rearview mirror can record voice memos–three memos of up to thirty seconds each can be stored in the system at one time.

One some Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles, uconnect phone is also an iPod interface, which allows an iPod to be plugged into the vehicle’s sound system enabling a driver to play music from her iPod through the vehicle’s speakers, charge/recharge the iPod when the ignition is on, display artists and music choices on the radio, and pause play when uconnect phone receives a phone call. The iPod can be controlled through the radio controls and the remote steering wheel switches (if equipped). The system uses a Universal Customer Interface (UCI) connector located either in the glove box or in the center console, depending on vehicle model.

uconnect tunes & gps

Uconnect tunes features a 30-gigabyte hard drive and the ability to play movies when the vehicle is in Park.

Uconnect gps combines the features of uconnect phone and uconnect tunes with navigation and real-time traffic updates. An integrated voice recognition system is programmed to recognize more than 100,000 words theoretically allowing for hands-free input of addresses.

uconnect studios

Uconnect studios offers SIRIUS Backseat TV, with three channels of family-themed TV programming (Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network), and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. SIRIUS Backseat TV operates via an in-vehicle satellite video receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas. Programming is displayed on the vehicle’s second- and/or third-row video screens.

For more on in-vehicle Wi-Fi, read “Korean Highway Corporation Tests Highway Wi-Fi.”

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