The system uses an Android smartphone for the bulk of its functionality, allowing clever widgets to be used both on the move and when you’re not in the car. The system is set to appear first on the new SEAT Ibiza this summer via a special trim level called ‘Connect’ that comes with a free Samsung A3 phone. It will then be rolled out onto the SEAT Leon, Alhambra and Toledo ranges.
Victor Banos, SEAT’s HMI Manager, took us through the system on his smartphone, starting outside the car. You can set up a profile on your mobile app (which will be free to download on the Android market) with settings for when you open the car. These include the interior temperature, engine profile, window height or which song you want to hear from your music library.
Once you’re inside the car, you can connect the phone to the car using MirrorLink, a system that mirrors your phone screen on the display inside the car. You can set up a tablet-style home screen on your app which then displays in the car, with widgets attached that you can click on while on the move.
There are plenty of widgets to choose from, starting with simple clocks and media players that replicate normal in-car tech and moving on to more complex functions. One widget uses text-to-speech to read out your Twitter or Facebook timeline, emails, or even RSS feeds – that means you can listen to your favourite news website’s latest stories while commuting to work.
This feature is a favourite of Victor’s: “Reading Twitter out is a neat feature, but being able to read and recieve emails is actually really useful.”
The other feature Victor told us he used a lot himself was the ability to record a “Track” – it uses the GPS system to save a route, perhaps from work to home or just a fun section of road. You can then compare your stats on that route in future – like the time it takes to drive or your fuel consumption.
You can make that even more of a game by using the “Challenger” widget, that offers you targets and games to beat. One example would be to drive 5 miles without dipping below 40mpg. SEAT is hoping to attract young, tech-loving buyers and these features seem perfect for the Gran Turismo audience.
SEAT twist on gesture control tech
Gesture control is used in some other cars, but this SEAT concept had an interesting twist on that – you could set a gesutre to send a specific text, email or Tweet. If you’re running late, you could just swipe an ‘L’ on the touchscreen and it would automatically send your mother a text to let her know, plus your current location.
Another interesting feature was the ability to see engine fault codes via the system, with a diagnosis and links displayed for dealers and garages that would be able to fix it for you. You can then call them and set the sat-nav to them with one or two clicks.
Connecting your phone to your car is nothing new, but SEAT’s connected car takes things a step further. Luckily, the system is not far off – it’ll be available later this year in the Ibiza before spreading accross the SEAT range.
Now read more about the app-ready head units you can fit to your own car with our product test.