Pi Technology Enables Wireless Hands-Free Technology With Ford Model U Concept Car

Ford Model U Concept Vehicle


Wireless hands-free technology could allow the car driver to enjoy seamless and simple integration of their mobile phone and PDA with the car’s entertainment system. Pi Technology, a leading developer of control systems for automotive interior applications, as part of Mobile-GT, has supplied Ford with software to enable the use of in-vehicle Bluetooth technology.

Ford’s Model U concept vehicle, shown at the 2003 NAIAS in Detroit, is the first vehicle to use Pi Technology wireless software. The vehicle utilises the vehicles entertainment system to allow any Bluetooth enabled cell phone to operate in a hands-free mode, without having to tediously plug the phone in. The software also allows for the vehicle and a PDA, in this case a Compaq IPAQ, to share data.

"The Model U provides for the sharing of calendar, task list and contact information", said Dennis Laudick, Multimedia, Interiors and Tools Business Unit Leader, Pi Technology. "We have integrated software with the Ford VCSI Java Framework to enable this additional functionality. Technology exists today to enable a driver to say ‘Dial Dennis’ and a combination of the phone and PDA determines the required number and places a call. It is only a matter of time before cars are fully integrated with consumer devices," he said. Other potential features include the ability to unlock a vehicle using a PDA, an interactive owner’s manual and the ability to configure complex vehicle settings. Pi has also demonstrated a system to access OBDII diagnostics over Bluetooth.

"Wireless technology is vital to meeting future legislative requirements," David Taylor, Business & Technology Manager for Pi Technology USA said. "Several states have already mandated the use of hands-free systems. The United Kingdom is in the process of passing a law making it illegal to use a phone without a hands-free system integrated with the vehicle. Other countries are following," he said. In addition, wireless technology enables convenience and safety features that will be of considerable value to consumers. "There are many potential applications," said Taylor.

Pi Technology is a leading consultancy in automotive electronics, actively working with wireless and next generation vehicle bus architectures. The company is a world leader in the development of automotive multimedia and related systems. In 2001, Pi Technology demonstrated the Padova project which provided a Bluetooth interface to a vehicle allowing data entry and retrieval via a PDA. Pi Technology has approximately 140 engineering staff based in Cambridge, UK and Plymouth, MI, USA.

Published 31 January 2003 Melanie Carter

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