CES Garage, Day One


Don’t say we didn’t warn you, but press releases have been flying off the keyboards out of Las Vegas all day. They are related to all things electronic and all electronic roads currently diverge at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

I scanned through few pages worth and found several related to the automotive environment. Some of the biggest news today came from Toyota and not just about the pending lawsuits.

Toyota has announced Entune, their mobile multimedia system designed to compete with the likes of Ford’s MyTouch system (which took a big hit from Consumer Reports in apparent user-unfriendliness) and GMs combination of OnStar/Bose/Navigation that has no complete interface concept.

I found a notice that NRG Energy, parent of Reliant Energy here in Texas, that they would host a presence at CES as they are launch eVgo designed to integrate electric vehicle charging into our lives. Here is a blurb I found related to this:

NRG Energy,Inc., (NYSE: NRG) a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Index company, owns and operates one of the country’s largest and most diverse power generation portfolios. Headquartered in Princeton, NJ, the Company’s power plants provide nearly 26,000 megawatts of generation capacity—enough to supply more than 20 million homes. With investments in solar, wind and nuclear power, as well as electric vehicle infrastructure, NRG is working to help America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The company recently launched eVgo, the nation’s first privately funded, comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem. Reliant Energy is part of NRG, providing electricity and energy services to more than 1.5 million retail customers and bringing the benefits of smart energy technology to its customers.

Next I spotted this press release and I recognized Harman, a leader in the audio industry, and Toyota, a leader in the automotive industry. Here is that release:

HARMAN, le groupe mondial spécialiste des systèmes de sonorisation et d’infodivertissement d’exception (NYSE:HAR), a déclaré aujourd’hui qu’il dévoilera un système multimédia automobile évolutif révolutionnaire en collaboration avec l’éminent constructeur automobile Toyota. Le système multimédia Toyota Entune™ sera présenté en avant-première à l’occasion du futur salon Consumer Electronics Show (CES) de Las Vegas, et équipera pour la première fois certains véhicules de Toyota à la fin de cette année. Ce nouveau système vient compléter la relation de longue date établie par le constructeur avec HARMAN, qui fournit à Toyota des systèmes audio d’exception de sa marque JBL.

Whoops, that is the first release I came across. Scanning several more pages of PR clutter I discovered what I believe is the English translation:

HARMAN, the premium global audio and infotainment group (NYSE:HAR), said today that it will unveil a scalable, trend-setting automotive multimedia system in cooperation with leading automaker Toyota. The Toyota Entune™ multimedia system will be previewed at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and will be first offered on select Toyota vehicles beginning later this year. The new system complements HARMAN’s long-standing relationship in providing premium audio systems from its JBL brand to Toyota.

OK, apparently that was related to the Toyota/Entune announcement. Here is their full release:

LAS VEGAS, January 4, 2011 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc. today unveiled the Toyota Entune™ multimedia system at the Consumer Electronics Show.  Toyota Entune leverages the customer’s mobile phone to create a rich in-vehicle experience that offers fully integrated and upgradeable entertainment, navigation, and information services.  By utilizing conversational voice recognition and in-vehicle controls, the driver doesn’t have to touch their mobile phone, allowing for safer connectivity.  Toyota Entune simplifies the interaction for customers and will be available in select vehicles this year.

 “Consumers have grown accustomed to having the world at their fingertips through their mobile phones,” said Jon Bucci, vice president of the Advanced Technology Department at Toyota. “And unlike other industry solutions, Entune allows the driver to interact with informative and entertaining mobile content without fumbling with their phone.  We offer features that our customers demand and integrate them seamlessly in the vehicle.”

 After downloading the Toyota Entune mobile application and pairing a Bluetooth capable phone with their Toyota vehicle, customers can begin accessing a wide variety of personalized content and services.  Toyota Entune is wirelessly upgradeable, so in-vehicle applications are never obsolete.  Ensuring that nearly all customers can take advantage of this new technology, Toyota Entune is compatible with a wide variety of mobile phones with a data plan. Toyota Entune key features include:

•    Mobile Apps – Toyota Entune debuts Bing, keeping navigation continuously up to date with more than 16 million points of interest; OpenTable, make a reservation at one of 15,000 restaurants; and MovieTickets.com, buy movie tickets and read reviews.  All destinations can be seamlessly sent to the navigation system.  Making drivers’ lives even easier, Toyota Entune delivers customizable real time traffic, fuel prices, weather, stocks and sports.

 •    Music – Toyota Entune brings you more music in more ways with iheartradio’s 750+ hometown stations; personalized stations with Pandora; XM satellite radio 170+ channels with coast-to-coast coverage; and introducing HD Radio, digital broadcasts of your favorite terrestrial music.  Toyota Entune also offers USB connectivity for portable media players and traditional terrestrial radio.

 •    Voice Recognition – Featuring a best-in-class, advanced conversational voice recognition system, Toyota Entune eliminates the need to memorize thousands of voice commands.  The intuitive interface allows the driver to focus more on the road ahead.

 “Toyota has always been a leader in the automotive industry, so it makes sense it would bring the latest in mobile technology to the car,” said Chris Daniels, general manager of Bing for Mobile, Microsoft Corp.  “By bringing Bing Maps and Bing for Mobile technology to the car, we are helping Toyota enhance the overall in-vehicle experience to be as rich and robust as possible, which means personalizing the information to each driver’s needs.”

 Safety Connect

Toyota Entune continues to build on the excellent foundation laid by Safety Connect, bringing peace of mind to drivers with an added layer of more personalized and convenience-oriented features.  Safety Connect is the cornerstone of Toyota’s telematics systems providing Automatic Collision notification, Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, Emergency Assistance, and Roadside Assistance on select Toyota models.  Safety Connect combined with Toyota Entune offers comprehensive safety services and mobile applications not found in any other vehicle make.

uct Availability

Toyota Entune will be available as an option on select models this year. The featured apps of Toyota Entune include:  Bing, iheartradio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable.com, and Pandora, as well as location-based services, such as personalized traffic, fuel prices, stocks, weather, and sports.  Toyota Entune also includes support for read-back and replay capabilities for text messages.  These are combined with a fully featured entertainment and communication system, which includes XM radio, HD Radio, CD player, USB connectivity, Bluetooth streaming and phonebook.  A high quality JBL sound system is available as an option as well.

Now many of you are probably wondering (as I am) just what smartphones will work with the new Entune system. The only specific mention of a specific phone system is in the quote below:

“Toyota Entune does for in-car multimedia what the iPhone® did for mobile,” said Bryan Mistele, CEO of INRIX, Inc.

So will it work with my iPhone? I see a partnership with “Bing” so my guess was probability is pretty low. But wait, I sat through the video and at the end when they demo the user app they access it via a (drumroll please) iPhone!


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