Update on Facebook in Car Audio

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An amazing 50 percent of smartphones connect to Facebook every hour of the day.

FacebookSo you can see why radio makers might see Facebook in the car as a compelling feature.  But the race to put Facebook in car radios appears to be slowing down.

A USA Today report quoting Gartner research, says consumers don’t really want Facebook and Twitter in the car.

Aha Radio says Facebook is not one of the top apps in its car app service.  Podcasts and music are the leaders.

Some car and radio makers offer a partial Facebook system in the radio.  You can “hear” your wall posts read aloud, but few if any let you truly answer them.

OnStar has yet to bring to market the post-to-Facebook feature it showed over 18 months ago.

BMW, in its luxury 650i, only allows certain dynamic posts to Facebook that the car can generate such as “I’m in my BMW,” or “It’s 60 degrees and sunny in LA.”

Many now believe it’s too distracting to offer post-to-Facebook as you drive, especially with government agencies like NHTSA cracking down on distraction from navigation devices and cellphones.

Aha won’t fully provide 2-way posting although it could and neither will QNX, which makes the infotainment systems for about 9 million vehicles.

Aha draws the line at letting you respond to individual wall posts.  “Otherwise  you get into a dialog…it’s a cognitive load thing.” said Aha’s Robert Acker, adding, ”Some [car makers] have asked us and we said it’s not part of our roadmap.”

But tapping into some back end capabilities of Facebook is another matter.

A prototype OE system was introduced last week that lets drivers automatically post the song titles of music they are listening to to Facebook.  The system from QNX, can also let drivers post their playlists to Facebook.  This type of mining information from the car to Facebook (or vice versa) is where both Ford and QNX see a future for infotainment.

Picture a personalized ‘Yelp’ where your radio calls up only your friends’ reviews of restaurants based on Facebook “likes” and recommendations.

“It will be important to know what my network [of friends] recommends,” and this may be integrated into the point of interest data base for the infotainment system, said Andrew Poliak of QNX.  “It will be important and I think a lot of OEMs are doing that,” he added.

Ford is.  “We’re researching with Facebook how we can socially enhance existing features such as navigation and music through location awareness and personal connections, all using voice control,” said a spokesman.

Still, the technology is rapidly advancing that allows Facebook posts and other verbal communication with your radio.  A Nuance engine permits such interactions. Given that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is considering guidelines regulating voice controlled car radio devices, it will be interesting to see how the market develops.

Source: CEoutlook


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