Audi was present at Nvision 08 and I had a chance to get the scoop on some new gadgetry which should begin to appear in new Audi cars in the near future. One of Audi’s employees demonstrated some of the upcoming upgrades to their navigation systems. The new system, entitled “Multi Media Interface (MMI),” will feature voice commands that does not require training, 3D maps, and a music library stored on an internal hard drive. There are plenty of other tech features, but I’ll focus on the center of it all.
The Navigation System will sport a new display with a higher resolution and will be LED backlit for sharper colors. It will support playback of DVD movies, but only when the car is parked. Like more cars today it has full support to allow hands free access to Bluetooth enabled phones. But as a bonus it will allow dictating numbers to dial or even saying names in your phonebook without having to program your voice for ever possible combination. The upcoming cars featuring this new system will have a 40GB HDD and two SD card readers built-in. Unfortunately the car doesn’t allow ripping tracks from inserted CDs due to copyright restrictions, however it will allow copying downloaded music from those SD cards. (MP3, WMA, & AAC supported!) Additional options for a USB port to allow use of flash drives will also be an option. The MMI system also supports adding support for Apple iPod devices or AUX analog inputs, which will probably also cost extra.
The main reason Audi was at Nvision was because their new MMI systems will be sporting Nvidia graphics chips inside the dashboards. The chips will be used to generate good looking 3D graphics rapidly. Many city centers will have 3D building models and topographical terrain maps. It looks quite similar to what is currently available in Google Earth. All the 3D content will be generated in real-time while providing turn-by-turn directions. According to the Audi rep, the graphics chip has been specially designed to withstand high and low temperatures while being able to absorb large amounts of shock, which would be important since it’s part of a vehicle. The GPS data with those 3D maps and voice prompts will apparently takes up around 25GB of data. When it comes time to upgrade to the latest sets of maps, dealers will apparently be able to simply install the updated content pack onto the Audi’s HDD.
Update (08/29/08): I previously had stated that the Audi will be using a Nvidia graphics card, however it turns out it’s just a Nvidia graphics chip. Sigmund, thanks for the correction.