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I found this article on a GM web site & thought it might be of interest to those of you who are indeed tech-savvy & following the progression of automotive electronics. The short write-up in it entirety [credit to The Detroit News] follows:

WiMax Is New Road for Wireless
The Detroit News

By John McCormick

Jan. 30, 2008

Are you ready for WiMax in your car? Do you even know what it is?

Amid the buzz over new models and concepts at the Detroit auto show, Chrysler's announcement that it plans to be on the leading edge of this emerging digital communications system caught my attention.

First, let's define WiMax. It's often described as WiFi on steroids, meaning that it is a wireless broadband data system that has much greater range than the typical WiFi signal you access in your local coffee shop or at home. Installed in a vehicle, WiMax has the capability to allow all kinds of digital info to be passed back and forward at rates and volume claimed to be higher than existing cellular phone communications allow. That claim, however, is disputed by cellular networks who say new technological advances will negate WiMax's theoretical advantage.

WiMax advocates also claim setting up networks is significantly cheaper than establishing cellular transmitters.

Putting aside these technical disputes for now, one has to assume that Chrysler would not have tied its flag to WiMax without some confidence that the technology is going to work well.

What WiMax can bring to the party is certainly mouthwatering for those of us who like (or have become resigned to) the idea of turning our vehicles into rolling entertainment/office centers. Already available in many of today's cars and trucks are DVD players, multiple screens, GPS-based navigation systems, plus voice command and Bluetooth-enabled, hands-free technologies. WiMax potentially adds a whole new level of functionality by enabling Internet access for searches, e-mail, streaming movies and music, data transfers, plus online shopping and purchases.

There's much more. As Chrysler suggests, the always-on connectivity of WiMax could provide the following:

• Turn-by-turn navigation combined with satellite imagery to provide more realistic maps

• Automatic wireless map updates, to ensure that drivers will always have the most up-to-date map information. Real-time weather and hazard information will also be available.

• Electronic service reminders, delivered directly to the vehicle

• Readout of e-mail messages using text-to-text speech, and sending messages via voice command

• Remote computer updating – wirelessly download software updates for any electronic module

• Wireless audio and video file transfer from home computer to car

If you are a technology neophyte this may sound overwhelming, but in reality these features are natural progressions of current technology aimed at making our lives more productive and hopefully more enjoyable. Besides which I suggest you simply ask your children to handle setting up and running the systems. One of the aspects I like about the Chrysler system, expected on its vehicles within a few years, is the ability to fix vehicle software problems without visiting the dealership. This is an extension of the functionality offered by General Motors' OnStar service, which can diagnose problems on GM cars remotely and inform owners of issues by e-mail.

Ford is also playing in the connectivity arena through its Sync, system, which connects vehicle owners' Bluetooth-enabled cell phones and media players to the car's entertainment and control systems. Sync is being upgraded this year to include a 911 assist feature, while the system itself is being made available on virtually all new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.

So whether it's WiMax, OnStar or Sync, the fact is that connectivity is coming to a vehicle near you. And I, for one, can't wait.
 
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