Will Cars Become Latest Search Platform? CES Has Some Answers

Toyota and Microsoft will announce details of their partnership for its “revolutionary in-car experience” Entune which will include voice activated search using Bing through the driver’s mobile phone’s data plan.

“Entune is a revolutionary in-car experience that keeps you and your Toyota connected. It’s never been easier. Just download the Entune mobile app to applicable phones, and you can access a variety of in-car applications from your phone. You can control the applications by using the touch screen or voice commands (Bing only at launch). Entune will be available as an option on select models this year,” the Toyota site explained.

While various internet connected devices have been in cars for some years now, this new platform integrates with the driver’s phone plan and can access a number of new features (all of which have yet to be detailed). Open Table is one service included that will allow commuting people to make dinner reservations – though apparently you have to be in park to use this one.

How long will be be before someone uses location based searches to find accommodations for road travelers? It would be handy to put in price and rating parameters to find hotels and motels off the exits you are heading to, when you need somewhere to pull in and sleep. Both Google and Bing Maps could be used for some of this. Then Local Search would take on a new meaning and possibly replace the billboards seen on the side of the road. Maybe some clever programmers could create feeds that the cars can capture from broadcast points, offers for any given night based on vacancies etc would be another creative way to take advantage of such search technology.

Mobile devices would become truly mobile with moving search results based on cars’ locations.

“Toyota is using a system that relies on the driver’s smartphone for many of its functions. The company is hoping this will overcome a long-standing problem with automotive technology: since it is difficult to upgrade hardware built into cars, drivers often end up with obsolete technology after just a few years.

Toyota said users will register their car and phone on a company website and then download the applications to their phones. It is designed to work with “virtually every” phone where an online data plan is available, such as Android-based phones, iPhones and BlackBerrys,” said Greg Thome, a spokesman for Toyota, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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